Melt N51 W116, 2015; Archival gold toned salted paper photograph; limited edition of 3; 11.5"H x 21.5" W.
A Lensless Vision: Camera-less works
by DM Witman
September 10 - December 29, 2015
Opening Reception Thursday, September 10, 6-8pm, 5th floor Glickman Family Library
Artist Conversation & Reception Thursday, October 29, 6-8pm, 5th floor Glickman Family Library
University of Southern Maine
Glickman Family Library Gallery, 5th Floor | Hours
A Lensless Vision: Camera-less works by D.M. Witman
D.M. Witman’s experimental approach extends from printing processes to image capture. For Supercluster Arion and Other Phenomena and Melt she has transferred that authority to common slugs and photographers serving Google Earth Pro. Chance clearly plays an important role in this process, so do time and movement.
Supercluster’s imagery derives from slugs meandering over photographic paper. Different markings indicate where they rested, nibbled at the gelatin and paper, or where other bodily functions took over. The round photographs particularly evoke both microscopic and telescopic perspectives and suggest a parallelism between microcosm and macrocosm—between lowly cellular life and unknown planetary constellations. If we care to look close enough, however, we’ll realize we’re looking at our own planet.
Melt displays a similarly attentive attitude. Virtually traveling around the world, Witman gathered photographs of snow-capped mountains from satellite images and turned them into unmanipulated digital negatives. Printed as monochrome salted paper prints with rounded corners, they suggest delicate images of the past that are governed by liquidity, not sharpness of detail. Many appear flat and abstracted, no longer about a particular place but about a state of being.
Melt’s three phases of work differ in scale, dissemination, longevity, and level of control. The exhibition features one stable and one unfixed version of each image. The latter photographs will gradually change into a solid aubergine color—essentially a time-lapse enactment of global climate change and the melting of ice reservoirs.
Whereas the exhibition audience has no control over the disappearance of these vanitas images of the environment, the recipients of small, equally unfixed photographs certainly do. Faced with the choice to either observe the image slowly disappear or to preserve it without seeing it, literalizes the impact of our choices. Receiving a card and deciding on its future is an intimate experience accompanied by a sense of urgency and precariousness, mirroring how we should feel toward the environment.
Witman’s thoughtful work also investigates photography by deliberately endangering its representational function. Ephemerality, time and its effects, and how it, in turn, is affected by mankind and nature, are perfectly captured by her visualization of the fragility of image and planet alike.
- Britta Konau