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February 24 - April 8, 2006 at Irvine Fine Arts Center, Orange County

by Roberta Carasso

Matthew Graner, , "The Dark Horse,"
2006, digital photograph printed
on Fuji Crystal archive paper.

George Katzenberge
r, "Airway
Avenue, Costa Mesa," 2004, pigment
ink print (from infrared film), 8 x 12".

With individual invention and artistic sensitivity, photographs of the “Analog/Digital II” exhibition extend the possibilities of the camera arts.  Magical subject matter, light usage, textural arrangements and haunting moods abound in a show with verve and muscle.  Erik Larsen uses a single utility light to create repetitive circular patterns that form whimsical abstract designs.  With his discovery of altering how he pulls film from a Polaroid, he enhances possible effects and multiple exposures.  Larsen then shapes the paper and arranges the work, some in frames hanging from clothespins, in ways that are more painterly than photographic.  Using digital photography, Robert Johnson explores how meandering lines placed on a flat but textured stone surface alter the effect of the image and our perception of it.

Over a light box, Katrin Korfman places more than 300 tiny video clips of a night scene made with a rotating camera.  Light penetrates the paper and filters through the dark and lightness of each photo, emitting a fascinating twinkling effect that unites the parts into an hypnotic whole.  Larry Vogel has abandoned the darkroom in favor of digital cameras and UltraChrome inkjet printing.  His work involves broad verdant landscapes manipulated with a slightly out-of-focus blur.  While we know we see a grove of trees, it also becomes a field of brilliant expressionist color and shapes, as Vogel transforms realism into abstraction.  

M. Kimo Friese exhibits a series of photographs and a large 20-minute DVD that capture the energy and poetry of the Los Angeles waterfront.  Colorful containers piled one on another, rhythms of tracks where cargo is transported, or patterns of cranes, lifting in one fell swoop the contents of someone's apartment, reveal the wonders of mechanized industry.

Photography lends itself to book art.  Cassandra Hooper combines several art forms to arrive at just the right arrangement of black and white lines, texture, and images created largely through camera invention.  Hooper also presents an over-sized print of a haunting studio having an immense arched window.  The work is moody, and the perspective angles of the darkened room suck us into the dramatic light and shadows that engulf the ambiguous atmosphere.

Cassandra Hooperr, "Tug (Conlectio
IV)," 2001, iris print on BFK Rives paper.

Photography is one of those art forms where viewers often think they can do it too.  But this exhibition suggests the medium is at its best when works are created with artistic ingenuity and profound sensitivity.  That's something Kodak snapshots do not guarantee.