MEED2: New Abstraction
Meed2 Winner: Chandler Smith
Congratulations to our MEED2 winner Chandler Smith, over the course of the year he will be working with Judge Juan Fernandez which will culminate in a solo exhibition here at Gallery19 in July of 2019.
Chandler Smith is visual artist based in Chicago, IL. In 2018 he will complete two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one in Fine Art Photography and the other in Audio Design & Production. His practice spans a range of media including photography, video, installation, and audio art. His work has been featured in group exhibitions throughout Chicago since 2015. From November 2017 through January 2018, the first solo exhibition of his project, An Approximation, was on display at the private residence of Columbia College Chicago’s President, Dr. Kwang-Wu Kim. Upcoming projects include a second exhibition of An Approximation, as well as his first public installation piece.
An Approximation reevaluates what a photograph is by exploring the boundaries and intersections between photography, sculpture, and video, while analyzing the relationship between humans and technology.
The process by which these pieces are created is akin to that of collage, while also maintaining that traditional notions of medium specific materials and processes are most effective when used as tools for creation rather than as vehicles leading toward a worn-out system of classifications. In the same way that material in a collage is overlaid, and the process of cutting and pasting are repeated, this body of work uses video, still imagery, digital and physical collage, as well as the surrounding environment as tools for creation.
These pieces are produced by projecting video into the corner of a room; meanwhile, the video is photographed, sometimes for lengths as long as 30 seconds. This process creates individuality in each form that cannot be replicated due to the randomness and specificity of the period of time during the video that the photograph was taken. In some of the pieces, adding physicality as well as being non-rectangular in their form further challenges the preconception of a photograph. After these processes are repeated many times, selections of photographs are used to create an approximation of a figure in an environment.
We now live in a world that is inseparable from technology. Large portions of the world’s population now have “smart phones” that are becoming more of a socially accepted stand-in for reality than anything else in history. John Lewell points out in his book published in 1985 that, “[Technology] is concerned with how tasks are performed, not with whether they should or should not be performed in the first place”, and later follows up with a warning that, “[The danger] inherent in computer graphics, is the distance that it places between the human operator and the real world. By enhancing sight at the expense of touch we may literally be losing touch with reality”. This problem of losing touch with reality and the push to consider reality as subjective has now manifested itself in many aspects of our lives, culture, and politics.
These technological advancements have also led to a phenomenon eerily similar to a change in society that Walter Benjamin noticed happening in the early 20th Century in which, “The desire of contemporary masses to bring things ‘closer’ spatially and humanly” caused a shift in perception in which people became obsessed with, “overcoming the uniqueness of every reality by accepting its reproduction”. Benjamin then adds, “The adjustment of reality to the masses and of the masses to reality is a process of unlimited scope, as much for thinking as for perception”.
Put simply, we have come to a point where we are just as willing, if not more so, to accept a reproduction or representation of reality for the real thing. We have traded our lovers’ touch in order to grasp aluminum and glass in our hand, the sound of their voice for translations from 0’s and 1’s, and their hazel eyes for pixels of red, blue, and green. An Approximation is doing the same by replacing a portrait for an approximation, and a reality for a representation.
Artwork by Peter Jackson