Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Reimagining The Corn Crib

photograph by Ansen Seale

It would have been a completely different exhibit if this had been in a gallery somewhere, and we were only pointing to the land, saying yeah, it's out there someplace. No, you have to come out here to experience the land, and you have to walk into this building and see these glowing panels.

Last fall The Land Heritage Institute invited Texas-based digital photographer Ansen Seale onto their grounds to contemplate a site-specific installation. When Mr. Seale visited the LHI, an organization dedicated to preserving the "archeological, cultural, educational, environmental, historical and recreational resources" along a 1,200 acre stretch along of the Medina River, the artist found himself immediately drawn to a small stone shed that had once been used to dry corn. The end result of considering this place, and the agricultural traditions it represented, led to The Corn Crib, a series of photographs housed within this structure. 

When we say "photograph," we must explain that Mr. Seale's camera, and the method it uses to capture an image, challenge our assumptions about how this medium works. Here's the artist's explanation:
Rather than suspending a single moment, my photography examines the passage of time. To accomplish this, I invented a modern digital version of the panoramic camera. In my version, a single sliver of space is imaged over an extended period of time, yielding the surprising result that unmoving objects are blurred and moving bodies are rendered clearly. The model in the studio must move in order to be captured. In the Water series, the stones in the river do not move, and so, become stripes. The water flowing past them perturbs their static image, creating a kind of color field painting. This is no trick. This is photography in the purist sense, but a form of photography where abstraction is the norm, not the exception.
By placing this attention to "the passage of time" and "moving bodies" within this former site of agricultural work, Mr. Seale has created a space in which audiences can reconsider their relationship to the land, agriculture, and our shared cultural histories as these rows of kernels are re-presented in a solar glow. All of this is beautifully illustrated by this short piece by Walley Films:

The Corn Crib from Mark & Angela Walley on Vimeo.