In an era of endless, perfectly-filtered decisive moments, of commercial-realist photographs labeled with #bestlife and #sorrynotsorry, it is radical for photography or music to embrace the full range of its own physicality, community, and peculiarity. As I became deeply involved and inspired by the radical artistic endeavors and challenging creative philosophies of the musical underground of Los Angeles, my concept of what a music photograph could be exploded and re-formed into ever-wilder, more multifaceted configurations. One aspect of experimental music that intrigued me most deeply was “extended technique.” To explain it overly simply, extended techniques are when musicians include sounds or uses of their instrument that fall outside of mainstream musical traditions.
Staring through the lens and trying to find a way to take a picture of the sonic storm of guitars feeding back, cheeks puffing during cascades of circular-breathing microtonal figures on a saxophone, or fingers eliciting a clatter of percussive bedlam from a prepared piano (subtle performances which, to put it nicely, are far from photogenic) it became obvious that the only way to explore this creative space was to find out what extended technique would mean for photography. In that spirit, all of the images in the show are created with physical manipulations. This means no Photoshop effects were used to accomplish the visual effects: just a wild array of in- and out-of-camera processes while photographing the shows, combined with manual collages of the prints.
Similar to the manner in which extended technique (and many other experimental music concepts) break down in the clear distinction between “sound” and “music”, extended photographic techniques fracture the overly tidy bounds of “image” and “artwork.” This is radical because, without preexisting aesthetic markers judge to the meaning and value of an artwork, there is a need for a very high level of sustained attention from both the artist and the audience. This deep engagement, whether it comes from extended technique or the multitude of other experimental music strategies, is a practice of un-knowing the obvious and assumed while learning to become intimate with the subtle and specific.
I hope the musical performances and and art works collaborate to send you searching for new valences of structure and time, entice your attention to radically diverse possibilities for art, and encourage you as you glimpse the challenging, ever-changing nature of the relationship between society, ourselves, and art.