Calvin Lee: A Romance in Pictures

Calvin Lee: A Romance in Pictures

LA-based artist Calvin Lee first presented this series as a artist book with Arts & Sciences PROJECTS, New York at Printed Matter’s first annual LA Art Book Fair @ The Geffen Contemporary, MOCA. Moholy Ground is pleased to present this work with an original artist writing Calvin generated for the magazine.

A Romance in Pictures presents a body of photographs that responds to both technical and conceptual questions surrounding the digital form of photography, through the lens of our culture’s consumption of magazine advertisements. The images in this series are the result of my investigation into the network of influences between image construction, documentation, and subjective identification with printed ads. Thus, my conceptual strategy is appropriation, which mirrors the performative process of identifying with a magazine ad while disrupting the efficacy of its image-identity.

A romance in pictures: Calvin Lee

A romance in pictures: Calvin Lee

The resulting compositions are a simultaneously personal and technical counter-narrative to the magazine ad’s narrative of consumption. My investigation centers on the abstract spaces of desire that are conditioned by representations of beauty, elegance, and luxury common to magazine advertisements.

By decomposing and recomposing those images, my reflections on the distance between self and image give way to a different kind of romance, a sort of technological infatuation.

A Romance In Pictures is a narration of artificial boundaries.”

Over the past few years I have collected and created an archive of tear page magazine advertisements. The ordering of this visual material into an archive is an intuitive selection process, which coincides with the sourcing of specific imagery from multiple resources.
I’ve selected, appropriated, and merged these pages to create collages. After arranging the magazine pages into new compositions, I digitally photo-document the collage, and finally post-process them. By using digital techniques in Photoshop, new photographic pictures are created.

A romance in pictures: Calvin Lee

A romance in pictures: Calvin Lee

Throughout the development of my pictures I appropriate, collage, and often manipulate ads by erasing or moving text. In other instances I un-brand the advertisement to its pictorial layout. My collaged photographs explore technological applications and the digital form in its self-reflexive plasticity.

The appropriation of visual materials, in conjunction with digitally rephotographing the collages, allows for the mutability of the image’s own technological and rhetorical plasticity. (The act of rephotography is a process of repeat photography, of the same site, which creates a time lag between the ‘then and now’ view of the picture.) The act of documenting disrupts the site of observation by remaking a new site for a reproduction to be produced.

By representing this mutability, new meanings are created. Furthermore, the given sense of its digital engagement within its own photographic space is altered and at times subverted.

The act of rephotography is a process of repeat photography, of the same site, which creates a time lag between the ‘then and now’ view of the picture.”

Tactility and tangibility: contact with photographic representations interlaces the confines of the frame, the positioning of subjectivity by the image, and the power relation of simultaneously holding the image and being held in captivation by it.

Repression, gaze, and touch are the structured inevitabilities of the pictures’ own image-based materiality, content, and form.
The lucid layering of meanings and yearnings are characterized by an illusion of tangibility. By our own humanistic relation to objects and visual images, we impose imagined realities that are also private truths onto images. The limitations of truth, and of fiction, is in its very artifact or documentation, and is filtered by the image’s stasis. The image is forever situated behind a facade and unable to feel the subject’s warm compassion.

By our own humanistic relation to objects and visual images, we impose imagined realities that are also private truths onto images.”

Los Angeles is the city of illusion and fantasy. I am interested in the construction of desire and beauty found in certain illustrations of Los Angeles culture.

My digitally re-photographed collages construct true moments, born from the narrative possibilities of my own Los Angeles experience, wanderlust, and poetic moments that, in an act of both technical and intuitive translation, become my romance with pictures and image-making.

A romance in pictures: Calvin Lee

A romance in pictures: Calvin Lee

The alterations of highly produced images, into new photographs, are perhaps advertisements for my own LA memories. Los Angeles is the exemplar of artificiality, and hence the ideal subject for both advertisements and private reflections on the medium of photography itself.

My digitally re-photographed collages construct true moments, born from the narrative possibilities of my own Los Angeles experience, wanderlust, and poetic moments…”

A Romance in Pictures is a narration of artificial boundaries. These are the constructed boundaries surrounding the fabrication of desire: its absence, infatuation, and loss are integral to the age of digital imagery.
The illusory touch of digital images is simultaneously the touch of technology, and the desire towards the indeterminacy and intimacy of abstraction, which is ultimately common to all representations.

Contact Calvin Lee:
cleancalvin.com
cleancalvin[at]gmail[dot]com

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