|Assaf Shaham, winner of the Constantiner Photography Award, exhibits at the Tel Aviv Museum of Ar|
Assaf Shaham, Full Reflection 90º (stripes), 2012. Inkjet print.
By: Nili Goren
TEL AVIV.- Assaf Shaham uses new ways to convene old souls to discuss mythological issues that have fascinated visual culture even before it was assigned theories. He creates poetic images while provoking the artificial intelligence of sophisticated mechanisms, disrupts the operating instructions of advanced equipment and defiantly breaches the accepted codes of ethics and esthetics. With a seemingly innocent move, whose visual expression is simple and succinct, he renews complex controversies that were considered long outdated. He posits, near a bluish field of wireless-controlled security cameras standing erect like flowering squillscollected throughout public spaces in London and joined into one photograph whose gradual colorfulness is reminiscent of three-dimensional renderingsreminders of the early days of photography, among them a key work that defines the basic principle of photography.
The work Time after Time and Again deconstructs photography into its components and reassembles them on one surface that encompasses the essence of the photographic act, the fundamentals of color photography, and the marvel that combines light and time into a photograph. At the same time, in a kind of an aside, Shaham also subverts the concept of freezing the moment which religiously accompanies photography and differentiates it from cinema. The sundial on the sand demonstrates, through a single photograph within one hour, the process that the medium underwent in 170 years, and clearly and succinctly formulates the conceptual differences between continuous and fragmented movement; it is also the conceptual distance between photography and cinema and the gap between the analogue and digital worlds.
The photograph Writer/Storyteller has a black-and-white three-dimensional scan of hollow portraits from August Sander's book People of the 20th Century. Shaham cut out the images and turned this colossal project into a topography depleted of 20th-century characters yet reflecting, through the cuttings, theories of physiognomy and typological photography.
Unlike the masterpieces of photography that Sherrie Levine appropriated in the reproductions carefully printed and exhibited in her name, Shaham presents anonymous images downloaded from databases or file-sharing websites or scanned from books and journals. For Shaham, photographs disseminated in any media are found objects, and just as the early ready-mades were relocated from their original surroundings to museum spaces through changing their context and function, so he samples photographs from advertisements and websites onto the body of his work and to the exhibition site.
The color surfaces and lines in the series "Full Reflection" are the outcome of two reciprocating scanners. The works are light-only photographs, devoid of matter, plot or subject; strips of light from one scanner are received in another scanner and commanded by the artist/equipment operator in different time points to be processed to a digital file.
Alongside photogram-style photographs, created by direct photography of objects placed on color-reflecting surfaces, Shaham presents a small reproduction of an anonymous photograph from Hiroshima, from a 20th-century photography journala tragic shadow-illustration of a figure and a ladder etched onto a wall in Hiroshima, a result of the intense light and heat that accompanied the atomic explosion. It is a stunning photogram with delicate outlines demonstrating the optics and chemistry of photography through the physics of calamity.
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