Nothing’s Ever As Simple As Black and White

31 May

Maintaining the monochromatic theme from the last article, Explorations in Materiality and Texture, Will Rogan and Zin Taylor’s work at MOT International utilise black and white in their images for contrast in tone, not texture.

The Time Machine Scratched (2010) by Will Rogan

In Rogan’s greyscale photographs The Time Machine Scratched (2010) and The Time Machine Open (2010) a beaded, narrow line of light falls across an old copy of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine as though piercing through the gap between two Venetian blinds.  As we compare the two images, we see the light falls across the book in different positions indicating time has passed or been travelled between during the time it has taken to turn from the cover to the first page of text.  The use of traditional black and white photography perhaps indicates the work itself could belong to a time since surpassed by technological innovations in colour photography, yet it remains crisp and new from having teleported to today from when it was first created.

These are contrasted with Taylor’s series of abstract works, An Arrangement of Voids, in which geometric blocks of white printing ink that might perhaps resemble thimbles, test tubes or lavatories, for example, are over layered on black paper, building up areas of powerful contrast along with a series of mid tones, like a photogram negative captured by repeated exposure with different objects placed on photosensitive paper.

An Arrangement of Voids #8 by Zin Taylor

Meanwhile, up the road at Guest Projects, Greta Alfaro has presented a photograph depicting a table full of black apples, with a stand of juice in distance, at a stall on the nearby Broadway Market.  In this image it looks plausible as a rare variety of apple.  Or is it?  Maybe they’re plums.  No.  A second close-up photograph reveals brushstrokes where they have been painted.  One might wonder whether it would be more interesting to have these presented as a sculptural installation rather than a photograph, but the combination of the two images creates a far more confused spatial reading of the work.

Greta Alfaro - Unititled (2011)

This could be considered to be highly political with regards to ethnicity (the Black and White Minstrels and the notion of ‘blacking up’ spring to mind) or to environmental concerns that the apples could perhaps have turned black through city pollution, volcanic ash from Iceland, radioactive discharges in Japan or a lack of sunlight.  Meanwhile Alfaro refers to the biblical apple of Adam and Eve and the loss of purity, and the potential corruption of the marketer’s art.  The work, however, remains entirely open to subjective interpretation.  What adds to the confusing situation at the opening is the sale of black apple cocktails at the bar.  Do they contain paint?  I didn’t fancy trying one.  Apparently the apples remain edible, so they must be painted with something like coloured icing which perhaps makes the work closer to culinary art.  Hence it would become like a toffee apple, making something healthy appealing to the taste bud, whilst perhaps unappealing though interesting to the eye (as in being rotten perhaps), yet actually corrupting the healthiness of the fruit.

We Don’t Need To Need To Do This is at MOT International, Unit 54, Regents Studios, 8 Andrews Road E8 4QN until 2nd July 2011.
Greta Alfaro is included in The Visionary Trading Project at Guest Projects, 1 Andrews Road E8 4QL until 26th June.


One Response to “Nothing’s Ever As Simple As Black and White”


  1. When Does Minimalism Become Too Minimal? « Art Critiqued - October 8, 2011

    […] Nothing’s Ever As Simple As Black and White ( […]

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