Saturday, January 15, 2011

valerie green

Recently, rather than taking photographs you deal with the materiality of photography, whether it's the symbols on rolls of film or material (Sintra) on which photos are commonly mounted. Can you talk a bit about your relationship to photography and exploring the non-image side of it?

You seem to be suggesting that my practice emphasizes the ends of a linear process when in fact I’m more interested in the cyclical nature of photography. There are many “non-image” aspects to photography, but they are no less photographic than a photograph. I make photo-based sculptural work. It began with photographic cutouts arranged in space, and led to the current pieces we are focusing on here, the photograph-less photo-based work.

After spending some time researching various types of storage devices, I began to think about photography specific containers and the various devices/image supports used in the life cycle of a photograph. Film is inherently a container of light and time. The film backing paper is the material that initially supports the actual container. Sintra is the material that supports the image. 2 ¼ at 103 ¼ is a recreation of the information printed on the backing paper that supports a roll of 120 film (Fuji NPL to be exact.) The components were scored on a CNC router and finished by hand with a box cutter. Applying the information from the backing paper to the gallery, makes the walls the image support structures and the contents within the space of the room become the “image.”

In “an untitled cloud” you mount the material used to back photos in a cluster with the corners of each piece curled, disrupting the possible flatness of the image. I'm wondering if you can talk about the absence of photography in “an untitled cloud” and the ideas behind the curl of the surfaces.

Photography is not absent in “an untitled cloud.” It’s just not visible. This piece is made up of 29 separate parts sized according to standard paper and photo paper sizes. The initial shape is based on the document icon on the computer. More specifically, it is a blank or corrupt document icon. If an image file has been corrupted, there will be no descriptive info on this icon. For example, most jpeg files are the document icon with the jpeg overlay. The icon is designed to look like a piece of paper with the corner curled up, a 2 dimensional-digital representation of a 2-dimensional object in 3-dimensional space. I wanted to play with this inter-dimensional back and forth to see what would happen when the representation is exported back into three-dimensional space as a rigid object.

Photographs often don’t even make their way out of the computer. They may never really exist physically in the world. But now, they may make their way to a “cloud.” The branding of cloud server technology relies on the notion that clouds can be anywhere and everywhere. That they are light and don’t really take up space. I find it funny that one can imagine all of their valuable data floating effortlessly above them and accessible at any given time, when the truth is that clouds are, by nature, ephemeral and can disappear at anytime. This is not the most reliable metaphor for information storage. The weightless cloud is really a huge, server filled warehouse that requires energy to be maintained. There is nothing light and airy about it.

In your earlier work you explore what a photographer encounters before she or he takes a picture--the film itself. What does your focus on the “before” and “after” of the actual photograph mean, for you, in terms of leaving the space of the photo itself a blank?

I don’t think I have left the space of the photo itself blank. There is a difference between blank and not yet filled with information. In actuality, I don’t know if it’s even clear what “the space of the photo” means anymore. Is that space on the film? Stored on a hard drive? On a blog? Is the space the time held within the photograph? Does a photograph have any actual physicality at this point? The physicality of the photograph transforms/changes as it uploads and downloads, as it compresses and expands, as it moves from one screen to the next.

You can find more of Valerie's work here.