Monday, December 18, 2006

Mary Dennis - A Series


On her website - twOeyesOpen - Mary Dennis has a gallery titled Fragments which displays square photographs of enviromental details. Mary has created gallery pages that are visually delightful square groupings of these photographs. I was so struck by the simple and elegant beauty of the photographs and the groupings that I arranged to purchase an entire page which I will display - under a single sheet of glass without a frame - exactly as she has designed the gallery page. My plan is to eventually acquire all the gallery pages.

Many might call Mary's detail photographs "abstracts", but I emphatically disagree - with photography's and, in this case, Mary's, unrelenting and very referent specific connection to the real, I don't see these as "abstract" at all. "Abstracts" are what painters do. Photography that deals with details - unless their referent's realism is radically altered by technique - is exactly what it is, a photograph of the "real". Now, I think that Mary has done a magnificant job of "abstracting" details from their surroundings but I don't see that making them any less "real".

I also think that Mary has done a superb job of conveying the sensations of color without resorting to the sensationalizing of color. By including photographs with generous amounts of neutral color throughout her groupings, the "natural" colors pop off the page without having to resort to Photoshop Velvia-esque saturation settings. To my eye and sensibility, this color at its best.

On another note, I am a sucker for photography series. I believe that photography is at its narrative best when it is presented as a series of photographs that are "united" by a common thread (subject, technique, etc.), but that's a topic for another time.

Nice work Mary.

FEATURED COMMENT: Paul Raphaelson wrote: "...The work that I like always has an element of abstraction. Which doesn't contradict your observation that all photography is also in some way representational...Any time you sense that form is as much a subject of the picture as the subject matter itself, you're noticing an element of abstraction..."

FEATURED COMMENT: Mary Dennis wrote: "I'm glad that the "unrelenting and very referent specific connection to real" is appparent in these images. That was one of the things I wanted to accomplish. I would like people to know what it is they are seeing--just not immediately. I agree that these aren't abstracts but fragments, the little details of the bigger picture I see around me every day."

5 Comments:

Blogger paulraphael said...

I don't shy away from the word 'abstract.' I just don't like it as some kind of absolute category. The work that I like always has an element of abstraction. Which doesn't contradict your observation that all photography is also in some way representational.

Any time you sense that form is as much a subject of the picture as the subject matter itself, you're noticing an element of abstraction. The work that interests me almost always has this quality.

Who was it who said 'all art aspires to the condition of music' ...? in part, i think they were talking about music's existence as pure form ... another way of saying pure abstraction.

12/18/2006 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Michelle Parent said...

Mary,
I guess this is what I get for not keeping up with your site! You throw this lovely series at me! I think this is your best work I've seen! Wow! It just jumps right out at me. I agree with Mark. They should all stay together on one page/wall just as you have them arranged here. Perfect and glorious. Such wonder here! I just can't come up with the words, but that is a good thing, because that means you are talking to the right side of my brain. Just delicious eye candy Mary.

12/18/2006 06:32:00 PM  
Anonymous mary dennis said...

Well thank you Mark, for your words and for the encouragement that you've given me. It has helped keep the fire burning.

I'm glad that the "unrelenting and very referent specific connection to real" is appparent in these images. That was one of the things I wanted to accomplish. I would like people to know what it is they are seeing--just not immediately. I agree that these aren't abstracts but fragments, the little details of the bigger picture I see around me every day.

12/18/2006 11:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Eric Fredine said...

I discovered these a while ago on Mary's site - I think they are stunning. I've been meaning to write a little note to Mary, but I'll just do it in public now!

The presentation of the series is an important part of the impact and it is masterfully done.

Great comments from Paul and Mary about the nature of abstraction in the medium - very much the way I see and approach photography.

Great work Mary.

Cheers,
Eric

12/19/2006 03:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim Jirka said...

Mary,
You already know what I think of your images. As stated to Mary privately, Great Work and an inspiration to me to see the simpler things.

12/29/2006 04:29:00 PM  

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