|Pierre Cordier & Gundi Falk, Chimigramme 11-6-13 I "Resurgence", 2013|
The above piece, by the Brussels-based team of Pierre Cordier and Gundi Falk, demonstrates the devotion to exacting conceptions for which they are famous. Here they compound that practice by using one of their frequent ploys, the hidden puzzle, an audience favorite since time immemorial. If you stand back and squint real hard you can just make out the letters of the title, R-e-s-u-r-g-e-n-c-e, written left to right and then, as in a boustrophedon, a device popular in ancient Greece, from right to left in the line below and zigzagging back and forth down the picture. As I say, you have to squint. Who said boustrophedons were easy! Yet is the supposed boustrephodon here actually a red herring, a trail leading to a misreading? It's for you to decide. Here's a blow-up of the lower left corner, which is elegant fun but unfortunately may not help at all:
In a work like this, planning in advance is essential - everything must be scrupulously mapped out, the incisions, the larger boundaries, the form to be taken by the hidden letters of text, the areas to be masked from chemical assault. 'More Mondrian, less Pollock,' as Pierre has said - a lot more. The good part is that once set in motion the process more or less proceeds to term on its own, and all the artist has to do is shift the paper from one tray to another. Imperfections, blips, and other small visitations from the gods of photochemistry, when they happen, are accepted into the picture, indeed they are blessed as emblematic. But I exaggerate somewhat.
To monitor progress (the new reader should review earlier how-to posts on chemigrams, such as this), the artist may use the thickness of dark and light lines as a measure or trace of ongoing activity, a chronometric record not unlike the growth rings of a tree - an idea which, the more we think of it, may connect chemigrams to the larger saga of natural history and to the seasons of the earth. If you think this connection far-fetched, we've discussed themes allied to it before in other contexts, for instance in the rate of movement of mackie lines around the equator. Critics and pundits in the future, if there is a future and there are critics, will want to expound on this.
Another work on view by the same team is 'Musigram', a remarkable piece depicting a fantasy musical score that features a staccato of bips, or congealed clumps of musical notes, against an opulent black. Don't even think of playing it, it's only for viewing. One attendee at the opening tried to hum it but failed, complaining he needed a bass line to keep time - or perhaps just a refreshed glass.
|Pierre Cordier & Gundi Falk, Chimigramme 11-6-13 I "Musigram", 2013|
Douglas Collins has several chemigrams in the show as well, quite different in design and a far cry from the impeccable work of Cordier & Falk. All were done earlier this year, mainly in the western Mexican state of Guerrero working under, let's say, simple conditions. Using Foma FB paper outdoors under a tree, he produced this
|Collins, Guerrero series #4, 2016|
|Collins, Guerrero series #5, 2016|
|Collins, Guerrero series #11, 2016|
The quality of the light and of the water in rural Mexico can be expected to have had an effect, from subtle to determinative: the water was from an ancient well, and bore minerals from deep in the mountainside. Here's some detail:
|detail, Guerrero series #4|
|detail, Guerrero series #11,|
Or, according to Collins, they could express something else entirely, and that's okay with him too.
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Pierre Cordier and Gundi Falk will be seen at Galerie Volker Diehl (Berlin) in August and at Paris Photo/Scheublein + Bak (Paris/Zurich) in November. Gundi Falk has a solo show underway at Barbado Gallery (Lisbon). Collins has work currently on view at IPCNY (New York) and at the Center for Photographic Art (Carmel, California).