Haunting Digital Photography Makes Abstract Art of Surveillance Footage
Stephanie Washburn’s visually-stunning photographs look like extraterrestrial landscapes.
Detail of Fire At Sea I, 2015. Digital c-print, edition of 3 + 2 AP, 32 x 55 in. All images courtesy the artist and Mark Moore Fine Art
Immersed in an all-encompassing liquid, a body of photographic works meld Romantic painterly technique with the experiential visual of compelling film stills. Multimedia artist Stephanie Washburn bridges the gap between experiences initiated through screens and corporeal reality in her eerie and bewildering photos. Washburn's swirling, swimming amorphous images, together as a collection entitled Reception, are visually-arresting in their confusing and captivating appearance. Her works signal an attempt to cross the divide, welcoming the styles of computer manipulated art and classic art. A distinctive digital C print displaying a striped background while stringy floral arrangement languorously form dark shadows. The stand out series is currently part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's collection.
Washburn completed the project by posing mundane objects over a flickering screen of projected films, stills from advertising on the internet to surveillance footage. In putting together these visually-curious compositions, the artist initiates a conversation around the prevalence of the LED screens. The artist's intentional and sometimes harsh warping of these background contributes to the abstract and often unknowable look of each of image.
The artist elevates normally inconspicuous objects, like teabags, shaving cream, and pillow stuffing to a celebrated, and newly aesthetic level in her digital paintings. Washburn cites Abstract Expressionism and early performance art as sources of inspiration, recognizable in subverting everyday items over unrecognizable images.
"The photographs" shares the artist, "document various everyday materials and gesture against a flat screen. They visualized a slice of physical space between the two digital planes that increasingly dominate our lives, the screen projecting information, and lens absorbing it."