In reference to photography, Roland Barthes wrote that its unique position among art was that it referred directly to something “that has been.” Erik Hougen’s paintings hint at that premise; they offer places both familiar and alien, which forces the part of our brain that codifies and organizes images to guess where and when. This dialogue, or rather confusion, between viewer and image is exactly what the artist is working towards. Hougen invites us to a location and time that may not exist. The mind attempts to classify the exact place, but ends up submitting to a notion of place.
Our relationship with maps has changed drastically in the last ten years, from the pinpoint ease of Google Maps to global positioning systems rendering us a blinking blue beacon on a grid of streets. Rarely are we explorers in the completed cartography of our planet. Visual artist Martha Willette Lewis has given us new, unreal spaces to explore by combining diagrammatic drawings, biological systems, and topographical forms. These spaces manifest as works on paper that are often folded, crumpled, or bisected. Lewis takes visual cues from systems that are usually not in contact and, in doing so, creates a skewed sense of reality. Hers is a hybridized vision shared by artists and technological innovators. The paper and drawing are real, but the vision is of an impossible place.
Jeremiah Dine records moments of brisk movement, still unreflective silence, and unstinting labor with equanimity. The images that sit obligingly still now are the distillation of activity by the artist and the subject. Dine uses his lens to interpret the field of view and render the whole image from minute elements linked by chance and purpose. Each fragment flattens, and what is left becomes the single instance worthy of illumination. Each image is now interpreted for viewing as RAW file. In the past, the practice of printing an image signaled a work’s finality. With Dine and many other contemporary photographers, an image’s final state can be digital—it need not be printed and exhibited. Of thousands of images and the wide range of themes that Jeremiah Dine records, certainly not all could be reviewed in one exhibition. These images were chosen because they exemplify a single moment of candid street photography.
In every family, traditional portraits are hung up or carried around: cousins arrayed before a monument, parents holding their grandchildren, long-gone ancestors smiling from a black and white beyond. Though we cherish their aura, the faces and places remain static.