This article first appeared in the Oregonian. You can read the original article here.
Evan La Londe, one of Portland's most promising young artists, is fixated on photography's limits, and how those limits can be leveraged to fill an image with a surfeit of visual information.
Consider "Untitled (A Shard of Glass)," 2011, one of his memorable contributions to last year's "Terrain Shift" group show at the Lumber Room. The artist presents a pair of images of a single, jutting shard leaning against a pale white-green wall. At first the two appear identical, but niggling differences between them quickly emerge: the shard on the right seems denser, more opaque, and radiates a subtle silhouette of white. In fact, it is a decoy, a cardboard jig that replicates the original's shape and color. This strategy draws viewers in, inviting scrutiny of the images as well as one's own perceptive faculties.
Like the work of contemporary practitioners such as Eileen Quinlan and Talia Chetrit, La Londe's approach runs counter to photography's history as a documentary form, positing that, in an era of Photoshop and widespread digital manipulation, the camera represents a new frontier for experimentation and abstraction.
For his first solo show since graduating from Portland State University's MFA program, La Londe presents a new series, "Untitled (Blinds)," 2013, at PDX Contemporary Art, which includes seven images of the titular blinds, apparently in the artist's home.
While each picture reprises the same view -- a tightly cropped shot, emphasizing the formal rhythm of the blinds' parallel diagonal lines -- what we see varies significantly. Moving left to right, they accrue definition, depth, and darkness. The first image in the sequence barely registers any detail. The edges of the blinds begin to materialize by the third, but with the shallow clarity of a line drawing. By the final, overexposed image in the sequence, too much detail has crept in, leaving a nearly uniform field of black.
Studying this progression, clues about the images' making also come into focus. For instance, the clean lines of the blinds fall out of sync with the depth of field implied by the gradient, signaling that La Londe is not merely experimenting with how a range of exposure times affect a single image. In fact, they are photograms, created without the use of a camera.
To produce the series, La Londe placed photo paper behind the blinds at various times of day, then blasted them with a strobe light. While the blinds provided a physical means of generating an image, the choice is supported by his subject: blinds, and their capacity to let light in or keep it out, to reveal or obscure.
After all, what is or isn't visible in a photograph, and how that information is or isn't perceived, is what La Londe wants us to see.