Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Cross , Syd
Vatalaro , Mike
The work in Slightly Bent draws upon my background in straight photography. Straight photography seeks to reproduce reality as closely as possible, as only the camera can. I use its language loosely to create images that are representative of the real, but my focus is on lending an imaginative interpretation of my subjects that exists only within the borders of the print.
I am influenced by the formal style of a group of photographers collectively known as the German School, that includes Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, and Candida Hoffer. The influence of their typographical studies of architecture and the human-industrial landscape can be seen in my work in the rectilinear shapes of my compositions, in repeated compositional motifs that are themselves typographical, and in meditations on order. I have adopted their language as a framework and applied it to banal subject matter of a much smaller scale. This choice of subject is closely related to the works of William Eggleston and Stephen Shore.
Thus the work is a synthesis of highly structured and serious deadpan style of the German School applied to mundane subject matter, elevating the banal object to the status of the heroic. This sets up a humorous irony that is aided by the juxtapositions of disparate elements that often create subtle narratives in their organization.
Through a balance of compositional strategy and transformation of the mundane, Slightly Bent exposes the dual nature of the photograph. The camera accurately transcribes what it depicts, but it is limited to the information contained within its frame. In taking advantage of this fact, my work seeks to, in the words of Emily Dickinson, 'tell all the truth but tell it slant.'
Sutherland, John, "Slightly Bent" (2007). All Theses. 288.