Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Divola: Exploring the Opposing Forces of the Abstract & the Specific

Our homework for Luke's photography class, in addition to scanning the negatives from our pinhole cameras, had us look up and discover the work of John Divola. Divola describes himself as a contemporary visual artist obsessed with exploring landscape by looking for the edge between abstract and specific. We were to look up his San Fernando Valley series (1971-1973) as well as his Zuma (1977) series and compare and contrast the two.

San Fernando Valley: This series is a collection of photographs based on 70's suburbia. It's an exploration of the reoccurring theme of "keeping up with the Jones's." I especially like the images of the figures; ordinary people doing ordinary, mundane things. The ones watering their lawns are especially humorous. All these houses are in California and during the summer, there's probably not a lot of water in the area and yet these people are wasting it on their lawns, trying to keep it greener than the neighbors.

Zuma: This series is much more artistically driven than photography driven. It is a collection of photographs of abandoned beach houses on Zuma beach. It seems Divola is trying to visualize the relationship between real artworks and their representations. There is something to be said about comparing the natural, beach landscape to the artificial painted chaos of the beach house. It's interesting to compare the two. In terms of Divola's photographic philosophy, t seems that San Fernando Valley has established the specific aspect and Zuma has accomplished the abstract. 

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