Looking back to 2009 | Ramblings from the Founder

Looking back to 2009 | Ramblings from the Founder

I was a tad artsy/pretentious in college...My BFA Thesis at Cornell was entitled “prosaic; black and white photography” - all lower case jeez. What does this title even mean? Also, what's with the semi-colon! Luckily, my parents were there to celebrate the achievement. Look I couldn't even open my eyes for a photograph (so awk!) - and let's not even address the outfit (I blame you, Ithaca).

a group of people in a room

My Thesis Exhibition ran from April 20 - 24, 2009 in Olive Tjaden Hall on the Cornell Arts Quad. Accompanying the show is my glorious Artist Statement, enjoy:

My thesis exhibition is an exploitation of the non-editorial content of the Internet. In order to cultivate this notion, I used Google Image Search as an emblematic, all encompassing channel of the Internet, one that provides an enormous breadth of imagery, without modification or bias by an editorial source. I felt that the best way to harness this idea was to type in an imprecise, arbitrary word or phrase and, consequently, utilize whatever images were to come up in that category. In that, I would accept whatever images were given on the first page of the search and consciously exorcize editorial control. It is important to note that the first Google search page provides images, which have been made readily available by a web programmer or by Google due to a site’s increased popularity. I chose the search phrase, “prosaic; black and white photography.” As a result, images, neither prosaic nor of black and white photography arose; in fact, some images are in color, and some surfaced due to a tangential association with the word “prosaic,” ostensibly, within a sentence or essay that such image was attached to. The phrase “prosaic; black and white photography” was consciously used to emphasize the ridiculousness of the Internet as an intellectual source. I chose the broadest phrasing, knowing I would not harness a series of black and white, commonplace images; in fact, I basically acquired an entirely separate categorical range of oddly depicted faces and scenes, some in color and some in black and white. To exacerbate this notion of non-editorial on-line content, I utilized and mimicked the aesthetic and mathematical structure of the page, while keeping the integrity of the images as I originally found them. In order to cultivate any confluence and consistency as the images move from the computer screen to the gallery wall, I blew each image up relative to the size of the original image while keeping all initial ratios intact. Then, I stripped each image to their essential parts to get rid of any resulting pixilation from the size increase. It is important to note that this choice of printing on canvas, and then, ultimately, stretching each image on wood, calls to mind the notion of accepting the Gicléeprint as a valid substitute for the authenticity of a painting. Just as we accept the Google images, which have been forged together due to a marginal, trivial association with the phrase, “prosaic; black and white photography,” the images, now blown up and solarized, are accepted as a cohesive group due to aesthetic similarities.  By mechanically separating tonal values through Photoshop’s solarization tool, the images now, only to contain four or five values, will emphasize and exaggerate the Internet’s non-selective openness to experience by detaching pervasive images of the media from any specific location in time and place, and then ultimately grouping those images together. In order to maintain notions of mechanical production, I had to totally remove my own editorial control and opinion, as the artist cannot be present in the work; it must look as though produced by a machine acquiring flat, unalloyed color. Here, a significant relationship to the 1960’s pop art movement exists, as pop artists, such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, created images, which subsisted within an electronic consciousness; images suddenly floated freely in the mind becoming interchangeable parts of the puzzle that made up the reality of the 1960s, a detached, impersonal reality engendered by the implementation of the television and exacerbated by Warhol. Today, the Internet exists as a conduit to mass taste, which is impersonal, detached, phony, and mechanically charged. Like Warhol’s images, as filtered through the indifferent machine-like medium of un-nuanced silk-screening and repetition, my series of images also embodies the condition of being an uninvolved spectator. Within the twenty-one pieces, the aesthetic similarities exist as a mode of repetition, which acts to promote indifference. In order to successfully connect my works with the computer screen image, I maintained some of the original text. To keep the aesthetic integrity of the Google page, the text has been implemented through the use of black and green vinyl stickers, providing a clear reference to the text on the screen, which is unhindered, flowing evenly with the rest of the page. The title of my body of work, “prosaic; black and white photography,” is, in itself, a major conceptual, functional component. In the gallery, the phrase stands on a wall by itself, surrounded by a dulled search box. The title’s placement, like the images, maintains the exact mathematical structure of the original page. By keeping the integrity of the original, my exhibition refers to the computer screen without being entirely explicit, as I did not make any direct reference to Google. Hopefully, my exhibit has conveyed a specific, localized idea that any of my contemporaries can understand; just as the internet is a democratizing forum, accessible to any individual, so too is my work. *****These assertions, were, without a doubt, what I intended to be the effect of this project. However, with careful review of the work, now, functioning within the gallery space, I have changed my view of the works proposed meaning. I believe that from individual piece to individual piece, relationships between those works are formed. I attribute the connections formed within the work, in its entirety, on the solarization. With aesthetic similarities, the pieces now become part of a group, each projecting and reflecting meaning on neighboring pieces. *****

- Alix Greenberg, 2009

Note the asterisks - we had to reassess after we saw the works installed. Ok, so I got an A-. Not bad. My parents also helped deinstall the show - check out my dad:

a person standing in a room

Look! He is so proud and happy here! Also peeling vinyl is really fun.

9 years later - have I shed my artsy airs? My writing has lost its affected quality, giving way to fragmented sentences and one word responses (everyone loves those!). Though I cringe at my 22 year old, artsy self, I think it's kind of cool that “prosaic; black and white photography” predates Instagram. The Thesis is an April 2009 commentary on the non-editorial nature/content of the internet. I wonder what the exhibition would have looked like after October 2010 (that's when Instagram launched)...

Some of my art friends with our parents.

a group of people posing for the camera

Had to include the below photo too so you can see the invitation to my show - it's Angelina and Brad! I was basic and pretentious - what a duo!

a stack of flyers on a table



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