I’m especially interested in the intentional use of photographic process and the materiality of photographs, with a particular emphasis on exploration and use as part of a coherent articulation of an artist’s argument and vision. These images by Joseph Minek are an exploration of the medium/material itself through thoughtful experimentation and documentation. We’re pleased to feature work that, while fundamentally photographic in nature, belies what is often considered to be photography.
In my practice, I explore the way photographic material can be deconstructed and then reconstructed. While the mechanics of photographic image making via a camera are clear to me, I am fascinated by the complex processes used to generate a photographic image. To better understand my enchantment with photography, I alter photographic paper by breaking down its material structure, a procedure that I term my “experiments.” These experiments allow me to revel in the wonder of photography while concurrently pushing (at) the boundaries of the medium in a methodical process. Such a working method is, in part, similar to the projects of early photographers like William Henry Fox Talbot. Even though I share in their process of image-making via trial and error, my goal is not to create a representation of the world, but rather to understand how photographic material can be used to create an image. Upon encountering my photographic works, a viewer may note an aesthetic similar to abstract painting. Such an initial comparison is deliberate as I employ aesthetic tropes of abstract painting with the intent of confusion. This invites viewers to examine the image itself, but also opens for consideration notions of the photographic limits of representation and physicality.
My approach to the creation of the works can be divided into two events: the process and the production. In the process step of my practice, I experiment with materials to gain an understanding of the structure of the photographic print, which reflects the early photographers and their search for knowledge while also organizing my own thought processes in order to move to the production phase. Seeking a deeper understanding of how particular materials function, the initial approaches I take to a work’s conception are as deliberate as possible. I attempt to avoid “happy accidents” that may obscure why particular material interactions occur. This consideration is followed by the production step, which consists of manufacturing the works with a specific intention to deal with issues of surface, mark making, and aesthetics. At this point, physical labor becomes fully realized and central to my practice.
In this two-step endeavor, I am part scientist, part artist, and create a body of works that show my physical and mental involvement with photographic material.
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