Photography as art has always been venerated for its reflective capabilities, predicated on the supposition that photographs do not so much signify life as embody it, albeit two-dimensionally. Whilst other forms of visual art seem to weave in and out of ‘reality’ via the authorship of the artist, photographers are generally understood to be subordinate to the forms that they ‘capture’. Moreover, the establishment’s current predilection for uncomfortable and often grotesque realism and the overtly political, as recent exhibitions at the Photographer’s Gallery in London demonstrate, much truly innovative work seems hard-pressed to find an audience.
Which is exactly why emerging artist Lloyd Stevie’s most recent collection, which will premiere in Brooklyn later in 2014, is such a relief; an opportunity to suspend cold, cerebral appreciation and surrender to more emotive viewing. Stevie’s ‘Jubilant Spectrums’ destabilises the boundary between representation and reality; deconstructing ‘the image’ by reducing it to its basic component of ‘light’. Stevie thus startles the viewer with the underlying unknowability of ‘the object’ and forces her to engage with the pieces sensuously, noting the work’s deliberate functionlessness. The pieces, which document the point whereby a sun beam connects to the earth by reflecting its light through a Compact Disc, present an only partially-ironic optimism regarding the union of the natural and social, whilst further transforming the medium of photography into abstraction.
Moreover, the close resemblance of the works to computer-generated images further comments on the blurred lines between depiction and authenticity, implying the indistinctness of the categories, as embodied by the hazy, muted transitions between the separate colours themselves. These static, euphoric tones are, ultimately, overt celebrations of the conclusion of the creative endeavor, emphasizing the ‘narrative’ element of art and further suggesting that light is both everything and nothing. Through this lens, the utilization of the CD – a quintessentially ‘unused’ object – as ‘paintbrush’ similarly reveals the transformative possibilities of photography, an effect that Stevie has termed “reverse-engineering technology”. Overall, the collection’s joyful revelation of light reveals the beauty of the microcosmic through the pleasure of perception itself.
Born in Sydney in 1986, Stevie moved to London in 2010 and currently resides in New York City. Check out his website.