foam abstract #2

This picture was made during the recent  stormy weather that took place  in early May.  This  particular  abstraction refers back to this earlier  foam abstract. Both of these  are abstract in the sense of the image being removed from its  context. 

However, there is a context to this abstraction which removes itself from all context.   The picture was made during during the Covid-19 lockdown.   It is not often that there is foam amongst the coastal granite rocks. It is generally happens  during a  big storm,  but the waves from the   surging seas usually prevent access to most of the littoral zone. The foam doesn't hang around for that long either.   

I am attracted to foam on granite  because it creates a starkness ---the colour is close to  just black and white.  There is a richness that I cannot achieve with converting a colour  image made with a digital camera to black and white. The latter  usually comes out an insipid muddy grey.   So my concern  here is  the modernist concern with the materiality of  the photograph. 

Granite abstraction #17

During the Covid-19 lockdown I have been photographing in my local area: mostly exploring and photographing  within a few kilometres from our home in Encounter Bay.   The photography has included  both digital and film. 

The emphasis has been on  the film work--initially  medium  format,  then large format--- so that I am able to  participate in an online exhibition of film photography  hosted by the Friends of Photography Group in Melbourne.This  is  an exhibition of  film photos made during the lockdown.

Abstraction is usually seen as a removal, or a paring away.It is an abstraction from something, or stripping away the context. This is  usually seen as a moving away from figuration and representation, and with Formalist modernism  (Greenberg)  also a moving away from other media (literature and narrative). The modernist desire/drive  is for a purity of  art forms expressed in terms of specificity of pure visuality and painterly form. 

This  repression of literature to achieve purity in the specific medium of painting through erecting a wall or grid (Ie., Rosalind Krauss) between the arts of vision and the arts  of language  collapses with the shift to post-mediums and the intermingling of media.

Reading on abstraction

I am reading this text on Deleuze and abstraction by Brent Adkins as part of trying to understand how different people conceptualize abstraction. This is normally seen in terms of a removal, a paring away, a purification. It is an abstraction from something.

Deleuze has an idiosyncratic view of the abstract, which compared to that of Clement Greenberg or  Peter Wolin   or Hegel.  Whereas Hegel (and people generally) think of the abstract in opposition to the concrete, Deleuze thinks of the abstract in opposition to the discrete. Even though Delewuze  views abstract art as being abstract because it  produces sensations sensation not  representations. Sensations are defined as percepts (new ways of seeing or construing ) and affects (new ways of feeling). 

Affects are associated with intensity (or the tendency towards change) and  not extensivity (or the movement towards stasis). Abstract is one of the ways that Deleuze thinks through intensity. For Deleuze the abstract is true lived experience. Abstract lived experience is linked to the tendency toward change (the concrete) as opposed to the tendency toward stasis (the discrete).

 Deleuze held that the key to change is to challenge the major conception of the canon and its dogmatic image of thought. Artists think in terms of percepts and affects rather than the concepts that philosophers think in. Photographers think in terms of images, line, form and colour to create something new--a becoming: what Nietzsche called the untimely. 

In the art institution the new is structured in terms of  a linear progress as a before and after. The temporal schema is a before abstraction and an after with the before--realism---  seen as  negative and modernist abstraction  seen as a new enlightened era.  However,  it is more accurate to see realism and abstraction as co-existing with different layers of strata  that are full of dramatic breaks, ruptures in these layers; stopping points, rifts, shafts, with their multifarious interactions.  Photography in creating something new can be seen as a bringing together of disparate   elements  or lines that cross cut its history without being confused with it or being stifled by  its conformity. 

red abstraction

The background and the context of this digital abstraction  can be found in this post on the Encounter Studio  photo blog. The image, which   is another fragment in the abstraction series, delights in colour. 

A digital image  poses a problem:  Is the  digital work  its file, encoded and encrypted and clearly mathematical, or is it  a fulfilled, material expression of that file?  Or is it both of these? The key is the integration of  photography into the network milieu with the emergence of new practices for circulating and archiving everyday images (eg., on Flickr). The  makes the photograph's   condition one in which the image increasingly functions as a form of data regulated by statistical/algorithmical processes.