Friday, February 13, 2009

Elliot Anderson "Equivalents"

"The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible."
Oscar Wilde

March will find a new body of work by Elliot Anderson at Gallery 16. “Equivalents.” is a new series of images that follows the direction set by Anderson’s “Averaged Landscapes,” shown at the deYoung Museum in 2007.

In this new work, Anderson questions the modernist notions set forth by Alfred Stieglitz in his seminal 1921 “Equivalents” series. By emphasizing abstract fields of light and clouds, Stieglitz evoked equivalents of subjective thoughts and emotions. Andy Grundberg said “The Equivalents" remain photography's most radical demonstration of faith in the existence of a reality behind and beyond that offered by the world of appearances.”

Anderson uses the Internet, the current repository for all digital snapshots, as his source material. “Inspired by Stieglitz’ work I began collecting snapshots of clouds and skies gathered from the web-searches on the Internet. Using software I designed I averaged together a selection of these images." Averaging is an algorithmic process that merges a series of images into one, creating a final image that is a composite of all those submitted to the software. Elliot's version of the Equivalents recast the meaning from the lone artists search for reality beyond appearances, to everyones search for it. His web searches use each anonymous photographers images to merge with the next creating a singular work from hundreds of sources. Anderson uses the formal subject of the sky, as Stieglitz did, but upsets the modernist vocabulary to grapple with the nature of Stieglitz's presumptions. By exploiting the increasingly communal aspects of technology, Anderson uses a modernist form to a conceptual end.

Another influence on this work is the aesthetic of the sky from Hudson River School paintings. The Hudson River School was a loosely affiliated group of 19th century painters who lived and worked in the Hudson River Valley in upstate New York. These artists were the first to truly represent the American Landscape. The vocabulary of their work included luminous and at time ominous skies through which they sought to evoke an emotional response to an idealized American wilderness.”

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