13 April 2013

The Malfunctional Sublime

Or accidental chem-pack random landscape generator, by way of William Miller's photographic series of "ruined Polaroids." Glitch aesthetics from misbehaving retro-/obsolete technology. A gallery of some of the series via the photog's website, plus much larger reproductions (for detail) from a recent posting at The Morning News here. What you have here is, I suppose, a sort of fubar aesthetics; one in which a technological glitch introduces "noise" into the process, but the noise doesn't just interfere on step on the intended signal, but instead overrides it altogether.

But all such maximized stochasticity aside, the images prompt thoughts of other things -- Rothko, Richter's squeegeed abstractions, enhanced satellite photography of vast geological formations, or the cloud belts of Jupiter. Art historian Robert Rosenblum had long ago pointed out that the canvases of Rothko, Clyfford Still and certain Ab-Ex/"color field" painters compositionally stacked up & ratio'd out like the landscape paintings by specific German Romantics of the early 19th century (specifically Friedrich and some of his contemporaries). Perhaps chalk up the aesthetic appeal of the above to some cognitive gestalt-seeking impulse, as intertwined with the hyper-associative nature of visual culture in general.

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