From the beginning, abstraction has been intrinsic to photography, and its persistent popularity reveals much about the medium. The Edge of Vision, curated by Lyle Rexer, showcases the work of nineteen international contemporary photographers who base their practice in some form of abstraction from highly conceptual to more documentary approaches. The works explore diverse aspects of the photographic experience, including the chemistry of traditional photography, the direct capture of light without a camera, temporal extensions, digital sampling of found images, radical cropping, and various deliberate destabilizations of photographic reference. This abstract use of photography often combines other mediums such as painting, sculpture, drawing or video. All artists join a broad contemporary trend to look critically and freshly at a medium commonly considered transparent.
The exhibition is divided into two sections. The wall labeled “Propositions” displays a range of approaches yielding abstract images. The other walls of the gallery constitute a series of installations exploring in greater depth distinct and radical investigations of photographic processes and meanings. What, after all, is a photograph, and where does its meaning lie? In the picture itself? In the world or its phenomena? In us? These questions are as vital and open today as they were 170 years ago, when no one knew exactly what a photograph should look like or what it might disclose.
The Edge of Vision is accompanied by a new book, The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography by Lyle Rexer (Aperture, May 2009). Illustrated with more than 150 images, this unprecedented and highly anticipated book documents this phenomenon internationally from the early days of the medium through the present day.