Posts Tagged ‘illusions

19
Jun
09

Exhibition: Scott McFarland photographs at Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 23rd May – 3rd July 2009

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Fallen Oak Tree' 2008

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Fallen Oak Tree
2008
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
27 x 24 inches (68.6 x 61 cm)
Edition of 5

 

 

Variations on a theme

Whether McFarland’s photographs are “straight” or composites, there always seems to an unnerving feel to them, a formal frontality that empowers the viewer into trying to unlock the photographs secret, like an enigmatic puzzle. Everything is presented front on, square to the camera, no oblique angles, relying in the straight photographs on the scale of the accumulated blocks of information, and in the composites, in the very unlikely, even theatrical, staging of the people within the mise en scène.

These are very cinematic photographs, some, literally, with their panoramic aesthetic, others built by assembling their scudding skies and stiff, neatly placed people. Too neatly placed in my opinion but that’s McFarland’s hook, his aesthetic cough which prompts the viewer to question the veracity of the image, its link to the photographs indexical reality. His multiple exposures push the boundaries of truth or dare, hyperreal solutions to a disengaged world. Personally, I prefer his straight photographs which are built on a fabulous eye, a masterful understanding of pictorial space (monumental elements held in balance) and wonderful previsualisation. You don’t need anything more.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to Regen Projects for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Scott McFarland. 'The Admiral's House as seen from the Upper Garden at Fenton House' 2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
The Admiral’s House as seen from the Upper Garden at Fenton House
2006
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
Edition of 5

 

 

“Regen Projects is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Canadian artist Scott McFarland. This exhibition will feature new photographs including 3 large panorama works, smaller works from the “Hampstead” series, and introduce the new “Niagara” series.

Scott McFarland’s photography reconsiders the traditional concept of a photograph as the depiction of a single captured moment in time. Through digital means he is able to manipulate composition, colour, light, space, shape, and form. McFarland’s photographs combine multiple negatives to represent simultaneous temporalities and interweave selected elements into a cohesive whole. Several different moments are packed into what appears to be one densely constructed instant. The photographs are meticulously crafted illusions created within the formal language of documentary photography.

McFarland’s consideration of photography and the built picture was brought about by the artist’s own understanding of the artificial “nature” found in built environments such as gardens and zoos. Taking the relationship of the constructed space/constructed image one step further, McFarland has photographed a modernist architectural landmark: the Berthold Lubetkin designed penguin pool at the London zoo. Through two very distinct works, McFarland investigates the elliptical structure of the famous penguin pool vis-à-vis the elliptical/arcing motion of his camera rotating on a tripod. One photograph is an objective colour rendering where the camera has been left level while rotating; the other is a larger black and white version where the camera arcs along a non-level plane distorting and altering the curve of the structure from right to left.

The new square format photographs from McFarland’s “Niagara” series have a rough unfinished quality unlike any photographs he has taken to date. These softer focus images with odd shifts in light and glare are location studies for the large panorama A Horse Drawn Hearse, Queens Royal Tours, 174 Anne, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario (2009, below). This work depicts an old carriage business and its surroundings during the dead of Canadian winter. In this visually captivating work, a black funeral carriage contrasts against the white snow. The acreage, surrounded by newer suburban homes, evokes the question of how long can this structure resist the modern urban pressures it faces. These straight photographs presented alongside his precise digitally mastered compositions illustrate how the photographic process and the history of art and photography have always informed McFarland’s work.

“Over the last decade, Scott McFarland has produced bodies of work that engage with different aspects of photography … McFarland’s approach is both descriptive and metaphoric … The images, rich in cultural significance, express the complementary workings of conceptual and aesthetic factors all the while holding various characteristics of art and photography in ambiguous relation.”

Andrea Kunard. Scott McFarland: A Cultivated View, published by the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 2009, p. 12.

Text from the Regen Projects press release [Online] Cited 16/06/2009 no longer available online.

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'A Horse Drawn Hearse, Queens Royal Tours, 174 Anne, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario' 2009

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
A Horse Drawn Hearse, Queens Royal Tours, 174 Anne, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario
2009
From the series Niagara
Inkjet print
59.5 x 124 inches (151.1 x 315 cm)
Edition of 5

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Boathouse with Moonlight' 2002

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Boathouse with Moonlight
2002
From the series Boathouse
Digital C-print
71 x 91 inches (180 x 231 cm)
Edition of 5, 2 AP

 

 

“Boathouse with Moonlight” is an exploration of the technical advancements afforded by digital photography, created by assembling multiple exposures taken over the space of two hours under the light of a full moon. Unlike traditional photography, this image does not represent one specific moment captured at a particular site; rather, it shows an accumulation of moments that have been manipulated and layered to create a revised version of the boathouse and its surroundings. McFarland’s use of multiple exposures to produce the final image emphasises not only the duration of the photographic act, but also the many facets of the boathouse’s character. This type of building on British Columbia’s “Sunshine Coast” is disappearing with the construction of new, suburban-style retirement housing.

Text from the National Gallery of Canada website [Online] Cited 02/03/2019

 

Scott McFarland. 'Gorse and Broom, West Heath, Hampstead' 2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Gorse and Broom, West Heath, Hampstead
2006
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
Edition of 5

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Women Drying Laundry on the Gorse, Vale of Health, Hampstead Heath' 2007

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Women Drying Laundry on the Gorse, Vale of Health, Hampstead Heath
2007
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
29 x 45 inches (73.7 x 114.3 cm)
Edition of 5

 

Scott McFarland. 'Inspecting, Allan O'connor Searches for Botrytis cinerea' 2003

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Inspecting, Allan O’connor Searches for Botrytis cinerea
2003
From the series Gardens
Digital C-print
40 x 48 inches (102 x 122 cm)
Edition of 7

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Orchard View with the Effects of Seasons (Variation #1)' 2003-2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Orchard View with the Effects of Seasons (Variation #1)
2003-2006
From the series Gardens
Digital C-print
42 x 122 inches (106.7 x 309.9 cm)
Edition of 3

 

Scott McFarland. 'Empire' 2005

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
[Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif]
2005
From the series Empire
Inkjet print

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Echinocactus grusonii' 2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Echinocactus grusonii [Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif]
2006
From the series Empire
Inkjet print
24.5 X 27.5 inches (62 X 70 cm)
Edition of 3
Private collection/Vancouver Art Gallery

 

 

This picture comes from Empire, a series on desert vegetation shot in the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif. Henry E. Huntington, an art collector who made his fortune building railroads, founded the garden in 1919.

“The plantings [of the garden] are dense, and the soil is mostly hidden beneath the thriving vegetation,” writes Grant Arnold in a catalogue essay for the exhibition, “the fullness of the planting continually reminding the visitor of Huntington’s beneficence.” To many gallery visitors, however, these images of lush desert vegetation will simply be appealing to the eye.

Kevin Chong. “A different way of seeing,” on the CBC News website November 13, 2009 [Online] Cited 02/03/2019

 

Scott McFarland. 'The Granite Bowl in the Berlin Lust Garden' 2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
The Granite Bowl in the Berlin Lust Garden
2006
Inkjet print
43 x 62 inches (109.2 x 157.5 cm)
Edition of 5

 

 

At first the photograph appeared to be a simple scene, one of no importance. The two young children, obviously related based on their similar physical features, seemed a bit awkward and posed, but otherwise, I thought it to be a snapshot, much like the one I took of the bowl while in Berlin. Upon learning how McFarland created this and many of his other photographs, I learned how complex of a scene this really is. McFarland uses multiple negatives, often taken over a matter of days, weeks, and even months, and combines them digitally into a seamless print. His interest is in breaking through the concept of a photograph being an image of a single instant in time and space.

A fuller narrative is created as well. With just one negative, there may only be one or two people depicted. We may just have the dog with his owner half shown, or even only half of the brother-sister group. But by overlapping the various negatives, Mr McFarland manipulates his work into a greater piece. We can now ask ourselves, why are the brother and sister so psychologically distant? Or, who is the small girl with the accordion and where is her mother? Is her mother the woman with the baby carriage? How long has that man been sleeping under the bowl? These are all questions that can be asked together because the negatives are combined that couldn’t be asked if we had just the single frame.

Jason Hosford. “Scott McFarland’s The Granite Bowl in the Berlin Lust Garten,” on the West L’Art website June 24, 2007 [Online] Cited 02/03/2019

 

Scott McFarland. 'View of Vale of Health, looking towards Hampstead' 2007

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
View of Vale of Health, looking towards Hampstead
2007
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
27 x 42.5 inches (68.6 x 108 cm)
Edition of 5

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'View of Vale of Health, looking towards Hampstead' 2007

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
View of Vale of Health, looking towards Hampstead
2007
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
27 x 42.5 inches (68.6 x 108 cm)
Edition of 5

 

 

With the stiff figures of a historical painting, Scott McFarland’s View of Vale of Health, Looking Towards Hampstead muddles ideas of what’s real and what’s not.

From the get-go, painting and photography have been inextricably bound together. The Pictorialists tried to make their photographs look like paintings. The Futurists, in their paintings, mimicked the blurred and segmented movement found in Etienne-Jules Marey’s chronophotographs. The photorealists created paintings whose subject was the photograph itself. And in his large-scale, backlit photo-transparencies, Jeff Wall has alluded to paintings by Nicolas Poussin, Edouard Manet, and Paul Cézanne, among others. The digital age has done nothing to diminish each medium’s obsession with the other.

This continued entwining of art forms is evident in Scott McFarland’s computer-montaged photographs, on view at the Vancouver Art Gallery. So is the parallel entanglement of nature and culture. Both conditions are conspicuous in his 2006 series, “Hampstead”, inspired by the landscapes of the early-19th-century English painter John Constable. McFarland’s colour photos, shot in various locations around London’s immense Hampstead Heath, pay homage to Constable’s attraction to the same place. They also play variations on that painter’s rendering of multiple versions of the same scene, and on his open-air studies of the changing effects of light and weather. …

Over the past decade, McFarland’s working methods have changed from straightforward analog photography to the creation of highly manipulated images in which he digitally splices together multiple segments of the same landscape or structure, shot over a period of days, weeks, or even months. In both variations of Orchard View With the Effects of the Seasons, for instance, the blossoms and foliage of spring, summer, and fall are contained within the same seamless panorama.

The digital assist means that there are no constraints of time, space, or documentary veracity in McFarland’s work: he can build whatever impossible pictures he wants and they will look “real”. At least until they’re closely scrutinised, revealing incongruities of light, shadow, time, and figuration. In this sense, his art challenges our understanding of the nature of the photograph and its relationship with the truth. There’s nothing really new about this project – as long as photography’s been around, it’s been manipulated by its practitioners. Photoshop, however, has added a vast digital dimension to the darkroom antics of earlier photo artists.

Robin Laurence. “Scott McFarland makes impossible pictures real at the Vancouver Art Gallery,” on the Georgia Straight website October 7th 2009 [Online] Cited 02/03/2019

 

 

Regen Projects
6750 Santa Monica Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 10 – 6pm

Regen Project website

Scott McFarland website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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