A photograph is just a flat surface it does not give enough or reveal enough- I want to get inside the image. Photography has always disappointed me. I have always wanted it to be more. It promises an intimate return of a memory but it cannot fully deliver on that promise. My frustration got me thinking that maybe the problem was not the image itself but the structure in which it is viewed. Conceptually that was the premise for the series Parallax Gap, to create an architecture that would allow me to poke around inside the image in both space and time and see what else could be found. By chance I discovered a scrim fabric that when printed on allowed one image to be seen through another image. Eventually it occurred to me that dividing the two images with an empty space in between provided the framework I was looking for. Now I was “inside.”
I chose one photograph to experiment with and I worked on it extensively. It was an image of a scene depicting a critical moment in my life that I most wanted to re-experience. The parallax structure was a way to go back in and examine the experience more closely paying attention to details that I may have missed. What I recall is that everything seemed to be moving too fast, some things were hyper–real, colors exaggerated, sensations intensified, the rest was out of focus, a blur. The two images, Birdword and Recent Findings, are pieces extracted and transformed from the original photo that I am still working on. Some stories will not leave you.
In 2006 during my tenure at UCLA as research scholar at the Center for the Study of Women my research involved gender construction and representation and my collaboration with a number of women resulted in a series of photographs Speaking Body. Furthering my investigation with Parallax into the realm of portraiture I chose one of those photographs to work with. If the body was already a metaphor for the internal, what could the parallax reveal? Rockabye and Jess are derived from that photograph.
While working on Jess I was reminded of a Chinese belief that when a child is born, invisible red threads reach out from her to connect her to all the important people that will bind her to life, including those who she is destined to, but has not yet met.
I take photographs but I don’t consider myself a photographer, I don’t paint often, but painting is somehow always present in my work. I studied at CalArts with Charles Gaines and Allan Sekula and I will always be indebted to them for encouraging me not to choose but to hold both in play.
The Animated GIF images in this feature are more like film and are a bit deceptive but I am attempting to more accurately simulate the experience of viewing my works in person. In reality the experience is quite the opposite. The images do not move, the viewer activates the compositional shifts by lateral movement in front of the work or stepping forward towards it to see what upon closer inspection will be revealed.
This is the first piece of the new direction my the work has taken. There are countless ways to mitigate moire patterns from forming in photography but using them to activate the work is what I am investigating now, I am thinking about sculpting with moire patterns, areas of stillness and sudden collisions.
Do not miss the artist’s upcoming exhibition at C24 gallery in New York.
Adele Mills is represented by Gallerie Kunstkomplex
All images © of the artist