Stephen J. Fletcher | Some Semblance artist statement

Some Semblance

Photography’s pendulum:

Realism . . .

Pictorialism . . . 

Realism . . .

Semblance: the outward appearance or apparent form of something, especially when the reality is different.

 

“Some Semblance” is my exploration of the pictorial aesthetic within the age of digital photography.

Photography’s Pictorialist Movement flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Its essence was the creation of artistic images rather than straightforward visual records made by the mechanistic camera and lens.  The unaware usher of Pictorialism was The Kodak, an amateur camera introduced by the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company in 1888, that brought photography into the hands of an enormously larger audience.  Artistic photographers using camera and film rather than canvas and brush began to differentiate their work from the everyday snapshot or common studio portrait by making their photographs look more painterly.  Pictorialists coupled their artistic reaction to photography’s technological advances with the newfound ability to share images through books and journals that could be shipped around the world.

We live in a similar era: within the past two decades, digital photography has supplanted film, which is now an “alternative process.”  Cell phones with cameras jostle in most people’s pockets and purses, placing ready-to-be-made photographs and videos at our fingertips.  We share images instantaneously around the globe via the World Wide Web.

My desire to create pictorial images arose as a contrarian response to photographic technology’s resolute pursuit of evermore pixels and evermore sharpness—a necessary development in digital’s quest to be comparable to (or even better than) film.  When carried to extremes, however, photographers “pixel peep”—obsessing over the degree of resolution found in some meaningless straightedge within a tiny parcel of a pixel array.  The pendulum sways way too far from center.  I did not want to become lost in that myopia.

“Some Semblance” was born from mere exposures whose pixels I pushed and pulled until they evoked an emotion or tickled my imagination.  They wondered . . .

“What if I was the glass bearing reflections?”

“So this is how it feels to fly among a flock!”

“Do I move with the ripple of a pond?

“Does an octopus see me?

"Some Semblance" is my homage to Josef Sudek, something I didn’t realize until now.