I came across this first image below from Gallery Hopper – regarding some work and an interview with Paolo Ventura over on FSTOP online – and a comparison came to mind thinking about how different artists approach the topic of “reality” or “ir-reality” in the nature of photographs. Both artist depict (illustrate?) staged events and fabricated models.
“The home of the poet GV”
Paolo Ventura/ HASTED HUNT Gallery NYC
Ventura – is “first an image-maker” in the sense that he creates sets or “models” that he apparently personally fabricates to a great level of detail, then carefully selects a viewpoint and “color of the air” in order to fabricate an image – the end product is a photograph depicting a scene. The work has a certain cinematic feel – very rich in detail and mood.
Police SWAT, camouflage.
“Terror Town”, Playas Training Center, NM.
Compare this to some of the work of Paul Shambroom, in his SECURITY SERIES. Here a sort of inverse situation is presented in comparison to Ventura’s images. Particularly, the staged government training of “first responders” in staged emergency situations is interesting to consider. Both are all very real, on the one hand – yet also staged at a completely different scale. Shambroom, rather than creating a “ir-reality” finds one that actually exists – already. I find it interesting though that in the “real world” of prints – Shambroom chooses to present the images almost to full size scale printed on canvas which tampers with the surface of the photo – almost as if it is a painting and with color tones and surfaces treated more like a painting might be treated with color and even with a varnished finish. For me, this keeps the question of “is it real or not” all the more interesting…. One chooses to fabricate images based upon a personal mental model, and the other finds a kind of fictional model that exists already – both of which present images that are quite powerful and unusual in a tricky sort of way.
This leaves me thinking that the fruitful question is not whether or a photograph is “staged” – all photographs are already staged to a greater or lesser degree – but what matters more importantly is in my opinion the “content” of the image. Is it strong enough to trigger a response from the viewer?
More discussion / thoughts / viewpoints on this – as well as many other examples can be found here, here… and here….