Light and Water in Chicago

25Jan10

Adam Ekberg's, "A Disco Ball in the Woods," 2006. Video.

by Caroline Newman

Light and water is necessary for our survival as a species.  Photography uses light and water as part of the photographic process. “Elements of Photography,” at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art,  employs these essential elements in photographic and video works of art. These two elements are experimented with in both the photographic process and in the subjects of the works displayed.  All of the works present new and innovative conversations between natural processes and artistic processes, and their unification.

Adam Ekberg’s “Disco Ball in the Woods” is a thought-provoking way to open the show.  It is intriguing to enter a dark room and watch a large projected video of a disco ball spinning in the middle of a forest.  After the first few moments of recognition, it becomes quite relaxing and hypnotic to watch so many small spots of light repeatedly move in the same pattern.   The use of a familiar object in an unfamiliar setting creates a profoundly different result for the viewer.  Hiroshi Sugimoto’s peaceful “Time Exposed” is a black and white photograph of the ocean with light and fog blending the horizon line.  The ripples in the water are the only detail in the photograph causing this minimalist image to become extremely abstracted.  Here we are able to see both water in it’s natural form, the ocean, and water in a vapor, the sky.

Another abstracted perspective on the issues of light and water is a photograph by Uta Barth.  Barth’s highly out of focus image appears to be of window blinds and drops of water.  The action of the blurry light between the blinds creates striking lines for the eyes to follow.  Light and water are the subjects but the camera has been used as the tool for abstracting them.  Instead of light just acting as light, it has become a sculpture.

The museum is in the Water Tower Place area off of North Michigan Avenue.  The exhibition is organized by MCA curatorial assistant Michael Green and runs through Spring 2010.

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