LandEscape Art Review // Special Issue | Page 46

Land scape

Lee Musgrave

Lives and works in High Prairie , Washington , USA

IIt is my habit to crush or cut up waste materials before discarding them and almost daily , I experiment with this random assortment of stuff by tossing bits and pieces of it onto a light pad to see how it looks . If nothing grabs me I shake the pad or

add more stuff or delete some and look again . In this process I ’ m merging random occurrence with conscious creation in pursuit of
“ visual ” surprises that reveal the elegance within the chaos .
The resulting photographs provide an opportunity for viewers to embrace unpredictability within an approach that values intuition and expressionism … where serendipitous encounters channel risk in the experience of observing and honoring the historic art principle of ‘ taking advantage of chance ’.
The light passing around and through these odd assortments of objects bonds them together in engaging and thought provoking ways . It also creates a wonderful array of color tints and tones that are not perceptible when holding the objects in ones hands . The light pad also makes texture details become more apparent and strikingly enriching .
Cropping the photographs is my way of featuring each setting ’ s individual charisma and creating dynamic compositions focused on visual aesthetics . Further , I prefer a visual language that explores and refines the shallow picture plane and cropping accentuates that preference .
Each image highlights an ephemeral world that reflects upon something vulnerable while speaking to the very nature of our consumer-centric existence . Plus their visual appeal belies their chronicle of transient , relentless change and even transcends socially coerced concerns .
By selecting and isolating settings from their context , I pull these images from reality into vernacular abstraction . In this way , the photographs explore the relationship between impartial objects and personal perception , focusing on the subtleties that produce multiple layers of nonphysical cerebral experience .
My objective is to place the viewer in the moment with each image ; to suspend them between imagination and reality there-by suggesting the unseen : those elemental phenomena we live by like vim , verve and oomph .
Though my photography is considered abstract it is actually completely realistic . I use realism as a medium – as a means to record my personal non-verbal responses to what I see before me and how immersion in it makes me feel whole . I am primarily a romantic who through selective cropping of realistic images reveals my personal inner world of mystical experiences .
While chance runs counter to most people ’ s conception of art , it has been a vital component of it since its very beginning and the images I capture are evocative of that history .
To me the inescapable appeal of these images is immediate and expressive of spontaneous gestures that are based on insights gained from my many years of creating abstract art . Most contemporary photography is occupied with recurrent narrative , political and gender-based themes … and probably always will be . When it turns inward to express beauty and visual aesthetic pleasure it usually drifts toward surrealism and fantasy , but still well within the representational genre . At the root of those creative processes is the sixth sense of instinctive intellectual drive . If flashes before our eyes , holds us and pulls us in and says ‘ don ’ t miss this ’. That trice is what abstract photography is all about . It goes directly toward ones inner thoughts , makes us pause and takes us beyond provocation and coincidence to a visual epistie that transcends our fundamental understanding of life .
The images I select are defined by my sense for the abstract intangible qualities of light , materials , and composition . From its very beginning photography has been understood as a trace of reality that allows moments that are gone to appear present . It connects with a realm that is beyond our reach and yet manifests itself in the image and thus seems near to us .
I seek in my gleaned compositions to allow that color and light to become true material subjects thus projecting an instant of clarity that holds time and preserves thought . Often defying understanding of how the images were made or even that they are photographs at all .
For me the process begins with finding material subjects . Most of them are simply re-cycled trash generated by daily living at my home and studio augmented by stuff I find when walking city streets or hiking forest trails . For example , by chance among the objects I found the day the Fiddle Diddle With Red Bean Series was photographed were a rubber gasket , three different gauges of wire and several bits of plastic food wrappers ( including the red bean image ). Seven days later , when I shot the Joyous Misbehavin ’ images I found parts of a child ’ s broken pinwheel , several fragmented objects including flower shaped hair clips , hors d ’ oeuvres picks , a bubble wand , plastic shot classes , spoons , and a knife as well as the rubber gasket and some of the assorted wrappers left over from the previous shoot .
When looking at the finished photographs of these disparate objects , I love that it is challenging and often impossible to identify them . It also warms me to see that they have been reborn to a new level of remembrance and I rejoice in the pleasure and delight they add to my life .
In closing , it should be noted that when correcting these images , the most important thing for me is to not do anything that changes or destroys their authenticity . I like to be true to the images that I capture , I strive to keep them as original as possible . What few changes I make are simply curative . For example , since most of my prints are in large-format , imperfections are easily seen so I always start with cleaning the images by cloning over the small spots of dust , lent and glistening that were not visible when shooting the image . This is especially true with regard to my light pad images . The only other minimal adjustments I make are slight color and lighting modifications .