Monday, July 27, 2009

Phil Chang

Phil Chang

Work from Double Exposure.

"In her 1977 essay “Notes on the Index,” Rosalind Krauss defined contemporary art as indexical. The work that fascinated Krauss was that which indicated an elsewhere, that is, work that was proof or evidence of what was not apparent in the work itself (such as documentation of earthworks or performance art). Most notably, this term “index” has been applied to photography, as photography, like no other art, purports to index what it captures. Krauss's contention, however, was problematic. Her definition of the photographic index relied on a certain qualification: the parasitic attachment of the caption was what created the photographic index. The photograph alone, without such a qualifier, has a more problematic relationship to its indexical ambition.

Phil Chang's work has evolved to question this basic premise of photographic meaning. The object of Chang's work appears to always disappear, to be just beyond the moment of exposure, as if the photograph is only a hint of what was intended to be captured. Reason and effect are moved to the periphery in an image like Ami, Fogging a Window, McArthur Park, Los Angeles (2005), where a woman, leaning in to breath on a plate glass window, leaves an ephemeral mark the camera is challenged to depict. A similar motive drives Chang's recent series Double (Exposure) (2007). Here photographic paper, a digital scanner, and the effects of photographic exposure, all collapse beneath the flatness of a single photographic image. Chang's photograph witnesses a process with an outcome just beyond the horizon of exposure. Like all of his work, this cleverly titled series imparts the supreme lack of photography – it's uncertainty as a direct witness." – Chris Balaschak

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