A brief viewing of photography shows last week in New York City prompted new connections between the still and moving image. At the International Center for Photography's show, "What is a Photograph," Liz Deschenes' piece Untitled [zoetrope] #1-13 was starkly beautiful in a show full of color and craft in reference to photography.
In Deschenes' piece, she inverted the physical action a human body experiences when using a zoetrope, a popular 19th century optical toy that created the illusion of movement through spinning still images that were viewed through slits in the cylinder. Instead of peering into a moving toy while remaining stationary, she recreated the actual slits into 3 ft tall concave pieces that were hung on the wall. These 13 pieces reflect the body's movement through space as one walks by them, therefore creating a way for the viewer to create optical movement on still surfaces through his or her body moving through space.
The notions of almost invisible movement were still in the air when seeing the work of David Goldes at Yossi Milo Gallery in a show entitled Electro-graphs. Here, the artist made large format photographs of moments when electricity is applied to graphite drawings and small set-ups including pencils, water glasses, notebook paper and other simple elements. As stated in this Paris Photo article, "The works make visible unseen currents of electricity as the artist coaxes the element to arc through air, travel through water or graphite pencils, or shimmer as electrostatically charged threads." The stillness and detail of the beautifully shot images almost hummed with energy.
It's through reflections of commonplace moments that these two artists make simplicity engaging. Reflections have the capability create a reference to cinematic experience while we move our bodies through space, as well as during train and subway rides when light and movement create strobe like effects in our commutes. Likewise, pausing to think about everyday electrical currents constantly and invisibly moving through our lives is captivating, especially when captured in stills.