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Wish Book: Lay of the Land with John Pearson

09/21/18 – 12/02/18


Crosstown Arts, East Gallery, Crosstown Concourse
1350 Concourse Ave.
Memphis, TN 38104 United States

Exhibition of photographic works by John Pearson
Opening reception: Friday, Sept. 21, 6-8 pm
On view: Sept. 21-Dec. 2
Location: East Gallery & East Atrium

Performance by >mancontrol< at 7 pm

These large-scale, landscape cyanotypes on fabric link the tactile and the visual by committing the photographic process to the physical landscape. Pearson works outdoors on the ground, making 1:1 indexical photographic prints during midday sunlight. In these photographs, view is replaced by elemental record; while the horizon, removed from the composition, becomes the topographic support and source for construction of the images.

Pearson’s intention is not to convey the solely visual appearance of place — in this case, the arid southern California landscape — but rather to invoke a more dynamic experience of place by means of the transformative nature of photography.


Artist statement:
My intention is to provide the viewer a photograph that offers an experience of the landscape that does not rely solely on visual appearance.  An image of a different scope that conveys the material phenomena of a location, a more tactile involvement with the landscape, that attempts a solution to the distance conventional photography asserts. My interest is to bridge this gap between being immersed in a landscape and simply looking at it as a photograph.
These large-scale, landscape cyanotypes represent an experience of the arid Southern California landscape.  They are made outdoors on the ground in the middle of the day in Griffith Park and Death Valley.  This is a rudimentary photography, made without camera or film, recording the moment, the light, and the terrain of a particular but negligible plot of ground in a vast space at high noon.  It is influenced by the landscape embodied in the 1840s cyanotype photograms of Anna Atkins, and it responds to the grand vistas of photographers such as Ansel Adams by bringing vision back to the body and using what is within reach: rocks, dirt, open sky, and sunlight. This series of photographs is an inquiry of place, an expression of a phenomenological sensation, and a proposition of sense.
The videos and photographs both are invested in observation, the presence and action of light, the parallels of light entering the shadowed interior of the camera and the eye functioning as an aperture to the blackness of the body’s interior.  That dependence of light on darkness interests me.  Video provides a physicality to the process of making images, a physicality that links vision back to the body, to movement and pulse, rather than the mechanical idealized view of the camera.  Video is more performative and allows for an intuitive, animated exploration of light.

Curated by Terri Phillips and Brian Pera in collaboration with Crosstown Arts

The Wish Book series is a series focusing on non-traditional approaches to film as a medium. Curators Brian Pera and Terri Phillips welcome internationally recognized artists, filmmakers, and critics to Memphis for this exciting series, which takes its name from the famed Sears Catalog and is hosted by Crosstown Arts at Crosstown Concourse, itself once a major Sears distribution center.


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