FIRECAT PROJECTS / CHICAGO April 24 – May 23, 2015
Inquires and Sales Contact: Dowling Walsh Gallery | +1 207 596 0084
Jonathan Laurence has been capturing and chronicling the scenes, people, and moments that make up daily life for nearly two decades. His self-documentation began long before the practice was ubiquitous. An early adopter of new technologies and social media platforms, the presentation, format, and physicality of his photographic work has evolved in response to shifting trends and capabilities, even as his subject itself has stayed relatively constant.
All of the images in Selected Memories are taken with an iPhone. The original, un-touched images are printed, affixed to wooden panels, then repeatedly put through a multi-step process involving sanding and weathering, washing with oil based pigments, and buffing with paint thinner. The result is a sort of trompe-loeil: varying layers of density create a subtle three-dimensionality. With a final layer of wax, the works become resilient and physically sound. They are not meant to be precious; they can withstand a spilled cocktail. But they are also one of a kind.
The process of distressing and sanding and adding imperfections was one Jonathan mastered as a carpenter building high-end cabinetry for summer homes along the Maine coast. Here, that method is used as a kind of manual Photoshop. Images that may at first glance appear to have been run through a filter are actually created through an elaborate, labor-intensive process. The steps of building up and wearing down layers creates–in the flesh–the very effect that such filters are attempting to simulate. The result is also a nod to the nature of memory itself, and the way it lapses, changes, and becomes more fragmented with the passage of time.
In his most recent large-scale installation, Shapes 2.0 (Ogunquit Museum of American Art, 2011), Jonathan printed his images on transparencies and hung them in clusters from the ceiling with invisible fishing wire. The show pre-dated the massive popularity of photo-sharing apps like Instagram, and the installation itself–with its shifting, intangible-seeming images floating like cloud bursts–foreshadowed the way photography and self-documentation was about to change. Today, like every single day, human beings uploaded some two billion images to the internet. Will any of them last? Selected Memories both reflects and stands in contrast to the ephemeral, fleeting nature of images today. “These are physical artifacts,” Jonathan says of the works. “They exist.”