Touch an image, and it becomes a façade. It is a flat, four-sided, object that articulates a constructed lens-based, perspective. Nothing about it is real except for the fact that you are touching it. At some point in time, a photographer raised a box and lens at something and allowed light to hit some kind of sensitive surface. That image, chosen from many just like it, was sent out into the world. The photographs included in Showroom begin as material. Displayed on the public facing doors and windows of businesses, their source images are like fruit, waiting to be picked. All that has to be done is search, find, frame, capture and re-print. What is then seen, are two photographers, two purposes, two different but similar apparatuses. As a viewer of the final version of the printing, you are embodying a third perspective one that is unfixed to either of the two apparatus at play.
The visual arrangement in Showroom comes from several disparate places. First, while playing with his toddler nephews and their ‘Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head’ toys, Schaedel observed that the children were often less interested in a completed toy and more in its abstraction on the ground. Second, the now famous images, shot by George Peet, of Minor White arranging images on the ground for Aperture Magazine. The third is Victor Burgin’s “Photopath,” a series of images constructed in a line, to the scale of the space, to “reveal what is concealed…” Fourth, and finally, a photograph of a banana on the ground at a 7-Eleven that read 2 for $1. The commonality between them is thinking about ground as a vibrating place that resists permanence, perspective and image structures. With the power of scalability, thanks to technology, images are freed from pre-arranged sizes and expectations both in art and commercial situations.
We have become passive to the sheer force and number of images that fill in our periphery. Like flies swarming some forgotten fruit, it is impossible to swat them all away. Images and their circulation, especially in a city like Los Angeles, are winning. Without consciousness, they slowly burrow into our subconscious and alter our reality. As we build immunity to their mind-altering tricks, images find new situations to interrupt and sneak into a new architectural space we once thought was a safe place for our eyes to rest, resulting in astigmatism of the eye and mind. No one looks at billboards anymore, so now they fill sides of buildings, whole cars, buses, and now the ground we walk.
The connection between the desires to hold a viewer’s attention in the commercial structure is the same in critical practices. To manipulate the work is to follow the logic of what is inherent in the material of photography and its presentation. The hope of this show is to break from the narrative nature of photography, the disappointment of execution, and the ego associated with the mastery of its presentation. The images in Showroom ask the viewer to be a player in the game, forcing the images, and their purpose, to rest in a state of constant problematic meaning, structure and subjectivity and questioning their photographic lives.