Payton Dickerson is unavailble at this time. Please join us for Joel Aparicio's talk on photography, which has been rescheduled for 12 p.m.
Modernism attempted to portray a powerful utopia through rigid ideals that dictated our culture. These ideals can be represented in the architecture we inhabit and the institutions we gain knowledge from, creating an illusion that the modern way is the only way. Photography in the digital age blurs the categorizations previously put in place in the modern era and assumes a post-modernist role of a democratic technology by returning to its origins as a form of documentation. By creating images using digital technologies that highlight the physical features of Western’s Art Department, I recontextualize the previous model of distributing knowledge through categorized institutions in terms aligned with our current landscape.
Through appropriating modernism’s use of the grid, the images function on two planes: the physical and the abstract, allowing for a dichotomy between readings that look outward to the world while also reflecting back into the frame. The physical nature of the images as uniform units of lockers and display cases represents modernity’s goal in enforcing power and homogeneity, while the abstract allows for an interpretation that extends beyond the image. A reading on how these rigid ideals have dictated the spread of knowledge through formulaic institutions and what may be their future in our current time that embraces difference and fluidity. The result is an image that creates a moment of frustration by being unable to be grasped as a whole and being seen as the truth of the past, but simultaneously allowing for calmness in the reinterpretation of the past to fit the whole present.
Image: Darkroom Enlargers, Western Washington University Art Department, Bellingham, WA. Photographic construction / 36 x 92.5 in.