Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lynda Gammon: Levels of Place

Lynda Gammon started her talk showing photographs of old studio spaces in Victoria where she lived and worked. I love seeing the interiors of those old warehouse/tenement buildings in Victoria's Chinatown. There's something romantic about seeing the rough timber siding and lopsided floors and window sills. And I always love seeing inside other artist's studios. I like seeing works in progress and you really get a sense of the person behind the work in how their workspaces are organized (or disorganized).
What's interesting about a photograph about an interior space, is that it talks about time as much as place. Photography is basically a medium of time (exposure time etc) and also says as much about the era in which the photo was taken (evidence in technology used . . . this was still analog) as much as the time in history of the particular space (ie. this photo was taken on February 29, at 6:05 am). Gammon (whose process is intuitive and relies heavily on the emphemeral) uses the medium in an interesting way: to express the rugged and rawness of these spaces, she uses polaroids (which are often badly exposed) and treats them with a certain disregard (like stepping on them) that they take on the character of the space. These photos later serve as source material for her later sculptural works.

"Salvaged" is a typical example of her sculptural works. Using the idea of the architectural model and assemblage technique, she intuitively creates a pseudo-model of a place that encapsulates several different layers of time and of place.
1st level of place: creating the installation in the gallery is done in such a way that it can never be created exactly the same if installed in another space.
2nd level of place: the sculpture represents a fabricated space (or model of a space)
3rd level of place: each image used illustrates a different space being photographed, so what you are seeing is an assemblage of spaces into a space, which then is viewed is a space.
1st level of time: the linear time in which the installation exists in real space (ie. length of the show)
2nd level of time: the ephemeral nature of the sculpture; the photographs are reused and shuffled around to be reused in other installations (past and future ?)
3rd level of time: the time depicted in the photographs (ie. the past)

Another interesting point that Gammon made was that photographic scale is very different from actual scale. You don't look at a tiny photo of a chair and say "that's a small chair". You recognize that image as a chair and don't consider the physical size represented by the photograph. I guess our brains assume that this image of "chair" is a symbol for a chair of regular size? Interesting.
Gammon's reference to architectural models reminds me of my time studying architecture and trying to hammer an equilateral triangle into a cube = disaster lol

Lynda Gammon, Salvaged

Lynda Gammon

Lynda Gammon

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