LandEscape Art Review // Special Issue - Page 46

Land scape CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW Lee Musgrave Lives and works in High Prairie, Washington, USA It is my habit to crush or cut up waste materials before discarding them and almost daily, I experiment with this random assortment of stuff by tossing bits and pieces of it onto a light pad to see how it looks. If nothing grabs me I shake the pad or Iadd more stuff or delete some and look again. In this process I’m merging random occurrence with conscious creation in pursuit of “visual” surprises that reveal the elegance within the chaos. The resulting photographs provide an opportunity for viewers to embrace unpredictability within an approach that values intuition and expressionism …where serendipitous encounters channel risk in the experience of observing and honoring the historic art principle of ‘taking advantage of chance’. The light passing around and through these odd assortments of objects bonds them together in engaging and thought provoking ways. It also creates a wonderful array of color tints and tones that are not perceptible when holding the objects in ones hands. The light pad also makes texture details become more apparent and strikingly enriching. Cropping the photographs is my way of featuring each setting’s individual charisma and creating dynamic compositions focused on visual aesthetics. Further, I prefer a visual language that explores and refines the shallow picture plane and cropping accentuates that preference. Each image highlights an ephemeral world that reflects upon something vulnerable while speaking to the very nature of our consumer-centric existence. Plus their visual appeal belies their chronicle of transient, relentless change and even transcends socially coerced concerns. By selecting and isolating settings from their context, I pull these images from reality into vernacular abstraction. In this way, the photographs explore the relationship between impartial objects and personal perception, focusing on the subtleties that produce multiple layers of nonphysical cerebral experience. My objective is to place the viewer in the moment with each image; to suspend them between imagination and reality there-by suggesting the unseen: those elemental phenomena we live by like vim, verve and oomph. Though my photography is considered abstract it is actually completely realistic. I use realism as a medium – as a means to record my personal non-verbal responses to what I see before me and how immersion in it makes me feel whole. I am primarily a romantic who through selective cropping of realistic images reveals my personal inner world of mystical experiences. While chance runs counter to most people’s conception of art, it has been a vital component of it since its very beginning and the images I capture are evocative of that history. To me the inescapable appeal of these images is immediate and expressive of spontaneous gestures that are based on insights gained from my many years of creating abstract art. Most contemporary photography is occupied with recurrent narrative, political and gender-based themes …and probably always will be. When it turns inward to express beauty and visual aesthetic pleasure it usually drifts toward surrealism and fantasy, but still well within the representational genre. At the root of those creative processes is the sixth sense of instinctive intellectual drive. If flashes before our eyes, holds us and pulls us in and says ‘don’t miss this’. That trice is what abstract photography is all about. It goes directly toward ones inner thoughts, makes us pause and takes us beyond provocation and coincidence to a visual epistie that transcends our fundamental understanding of life. The images I select are defined by my sense for the abstract intangible qualities of light, materials, and composition. From its very beginning photography has been understood as a trace of reality that allows moments that are gone to appear present. It connects with a realm that is beyond our reach and yet manifests itself in the image and thus seems near to us. I seek in my gleaned compositions to allow that color and light to become true material subjects thus projecting an instant of clarity that holds time and preserves thought. Often defying understanding of how the images were made or even that they are photographs at all. For me the process begins with finding material subjects. Most of them are simply re-cycled trash generated by daily living at my home and studio augmented by stuff I find when walking city streets or hiking forest trails. For example, by chance among the objects I found the day the Fiddle Diddle With Red Bean Series was photographed were a rubber gasket, three different gauges of wire and several bits of plastic food wrappers (including the red bean image). Seven days later, when I shot the Joyous Misbehavin’ images I found parts of a child’s broken pinwheel, several fragmented objects including flower shaped hair clips, hors d’oeuvres picks, a bubble wand, plastic shot classes, spoons, and a knife as well as the rubber gasket and some of the assorted wrappers left over from the previous shoot. When looking at the finished photographs of these disparate objects, I love that it is challenging and often impossible to identify them. It also warms me to see that they have been reborn to a new level of remembrance and I rejoice in the pleasure and delight they add to my life. In closing, it should be noted that when correcting these images, the most important thing for me is to not do anything that changes or destroys their authenticity. I like to be true to the images that I capture, I strive to keep them as original as possible. What few changes I make are simply curative. For example, since most of my prints are in large-format, imperfections are easily seen so I always start with cleaning the images by cloning over the small spots of dust, lent and glistening that were not visible when shooting the image. This is especially true with regard to my light pad images. The only other minimal adjustments I make are slight color and lighting modifications.