Rarely does a photographer create work that questions its medium, and when they do, the question “Is this even photography anymore?” often comes to mind. We see this in Atlanta in works by P. Seth Thompson (whose exhibition is on view at Sandler Hudson) and Spencer Sloan, whose exhibition of work is on view through Saturday, April 15, at Spalding Nix Fine Art.
Sloan’s works look like corrupted images, a photographer’s worst nightmare, but the affect is intentional. They are intense, dynamic compositions with harmonious colors, directional lines, and depth. Sloan begins with celebrity candid photos, then uses a series of image-corrupting applications to achieve the colorful explosions that have no recognizable detail, as in Jessica Alba – riding her bike in Malibu July 5, 2015. Sloan’s photos seem to jab at contemporary society: we may know who Jessica Alba is, yet we can’t find her in this photograph. Sloan thwarts the viewer’s gaze. We’re not allowed to see the purported subject, which we could easily look for in Google Images. Sloan offers a necessary tension in photography by corrupting an image that itself was a cheap means of providing fleeting entertainment.
The print quality of the images leaves something to be desired. Despite the image manipulation and intentional corruption, it’s unclear whether they are meant to be blurry or if they were blown up from a smaller image size that has negatively affected the quality of the image and thus its storytelling power. Other than that gripe, the works are fantastic and engaging.
Hashim Rainey was a participant in Cycle 4 of BURNAWAY’s Art Writers Mentorship Program.