The Sections of Doubt
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
“The Sections of Doubt” consists of 12 scanner photographs based on Zimbabwe’s Shona sculptures. The images resonate of refugees, remembrance of war and a sense of political and social injustice. The title is from a poem that moves in time from the Cold War through the fall of the Berlin Wall to “Occupy” movements.
Mac McArthur’s scanner photography captures objects that appear in a dimension outside the gravitational pull of our everyday world. At the same time, he evokes profound human emotion and experience that is rooted in specific instances of political injustice. In these images, the tension one senses between humanity and material object, object and its environment, and foreground and background, is embodied by the technology itself.
A scanner photographer starts with a blank page. A preview of an empty flatbed is a black void with no defined “physical” figure or ground. The orientation and horizon of the “real world” is replaced by a mysterious space turned 90 degrees, where objects appear in a dimension outside the gravitational pull of the everyday world. Integral to any composition is the random effect of the scanner bar setting its own priorities of shadow, light and focus. Yet, the artist has infinite flexibility in choosing materials and placements. Lighting effects can be enhanced by both mirror reflection and refraction, direct sun or flashlights, the physics of the optical interface of glass and stone and the inevitability of chance.
Materials include wood, glass, bone, fabric, minerals, mirrors, and most significantly, the stone sculptures of Zimbabwe. Scan dpi ranges from 1200 and 9600 depending on the portion of the glass surface captured in a single pass. Photoshop is used to remove dust and scratches with no collage techniques, layering or other digital manipulation.
The interface of contemporary technology with traditional stonework and raw materials is a productive clash, but it signals a shift from production to reproduction and from creation to appropriation. The early definition of postmodernist work that Leo Steinberg applied to Robert Rauschenberg’s silkscreen collages in his 1968 essay Other Criteria could equally apply, most significantly in the use of the term flatbed.
That term signaled a shift from nature to culture and a reorientation of the pictorial field to a surface of a vast heterogeneous array of artifacts previously incompatible. This work suggests another shift, from Steinberg’s flatbed which referred to the printing press, to the flatbed of a digital scanner.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Raised in Montreal, Mac McArthur has traveled extensively with both corporate and non-profit organizations including Doctors Without Borders, Inter-continental Hotels and Engineers Without Borders. In 2007 he experimented with scanners as a new art-form with his first solo show at Visual Voice Gallery the following year.
Subsequently his work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in New York City (PooL Art Fair 2009), FotoFest in Houston, Brighton (UK) Fringe Festival and Toronto’s CONTACT Photography Festival.
In 2011 Mac traveled to Zimbabwe to exhibit work based on Shona sculptures. Additionally he ran seminars for local artists on the possibilities of scanners and met with the families of departed sculptors whose work is central to his own.
Tom Hinson, Curator of Photography at The Cleveland Museum of Art, has called the work “non-traditional digital” … both an ironic and accurate definition.
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June 14 - 23, 2012
Saturday, June 16, 2012
2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
© Visual Voice Art Gallery