S T E R E O S C O P I C P H O T O G R A P H S
I am interested in the process of vision and visual communication itself, and how we bring meaning to what we see and experience through the medium of photography. Photography is ubiquitous, yet the art photograph aims to provide a critique on existing everyday photography in our culture. I use text with images to evoke third meanings and associations in the viewers mind on a variety of topics. Sometimes the meanings are derived from the image text combinations become more focused through them and other times the meanings are opened up through the use of image and text. This is also how advertising photography works to influence consumers. Only in my case, I hope to encourage people to question the world around them and the way in which other photography functions within that world (and perhaps to make people laugh a bit, too). The work is influenced by Barbar Kruger, Rosalind Krauss, John Heartfield and the Borthers Quay, as well as George Melies and pre cinematic history of optical devices. Many of my images are political, feminist and are about photography a s afield and how it intersects with our lives in different forms - the family snapshot, the government archive, news photography, advertising, photography of the body and how it is sometimes objectified, iconic imagery in the collective unconscious.
The deliberate use of black and white photography can produce nostalgic and appropriated utopian associations in a viewer. While the images are poking fun at our “society of the spectacle” (Guy Dubord) by creating their own commentary on it, the work aims to provoke thought, amusement and questions.
Stereoscopic 3D space is used here, as an imagined, subjectless space, one with no referents. The stereoscopic effect of space in film and photography positions the viewer in an extremely individualized spatial matrix within the 3-D world. Stereoscopy can be used to call attention to the way in which vision functions within our bodies, and to make the point, that stereo can disrupt the traditional Cartesian structure of vision. It also, in my work can be utilized to show how photography can be manipulated, but showing manipulations in 3-D, taking the illusion to its most extreme.
These images can be viewed as projections with 3-D glasses, flat prints on the wall using hanging or hand held black plastic stereoscopes that contain small mirrors or inside wall mounted white box like stereoscopes with glass lenses, that I have designed myself. These stereoscopes that are wall hung have gone through many iterations, from wood to rubber to 3-D printed plastic.
ACADEMIC STATEMENT ON THE STEREOGRAPHIC WORK (by Rebecca Hackemann)
mini Essay in Public (3d Cinema and Beyond) Journal number 47:
In these conceptual stereoscopic work contained in this publication, I use fictionality within photography to create the most extreme opposite of what documentary photography claims to do. 3-D scenes are constructed that become worlds unto themselves, to be later destroyed. The stereoscopic images are combined with non-descriptive, appropriated or written text. The results are often political, whimsical or satirical and differ depending on what meaning and connotations are brought to the work by the viewer. The addition of non-descriptive text taken from old literary sources, adds to the multi faceted connotations that arise from the work. Allan Sekula notes that “the photograph is an incomplete utterance of some sort, a message that depends on some external matrix of conditions and presuppositions for it’s readability. This, the photograph is only readable if the viewer decodes it.” This incompleteness of the utterance of the image, is met with the free and chance associations that the visitor brings to it and it is this process that interrests me. In other words, the viewer completes this incomplete utterance by bringing their own understanding to it. Rosalind Krauss articulates this when she is talking about surrealism–she notes that the “[A]ssociative fragments within the image are not simply a function of subjectivity” of the viewer, but also of “[T]he space of thought, the unconscious”. She continues, that “[I]t is as well a function of external space, of reality convulsed by the condition of the index, in a continual process of reference.” –hence one cannot control the meaning of a work. I do nto endeavor ot control the meaning of my work. In these images then I am attempting to do the opposite, namely infuse as many variables into the image / text combinations as I can, without the message becoming too arbitrary, surrealist or random. The busyness of the content of the work in many ways matches the intensity of the 3-D viewing experience. Instead of showing something beautiful to wonder at, the work pokes the viewer with questions and philosophical propositions. The black background in these works eludes perhaps to what Lacan calls the real, namely “[T]hat which is outside language and inassimilable to symbolization.” –or to a dream space? Here the metaphor of an “eye torn from the subject and freely thrown around” returns. What is so pertinent here is that it is described as being thrown and it perhaps aptly could be used to refer to one’s brian in a dream, throwing images about, which are in fact very important. Fictionality then can be used as a tool to show reality, because we cannot see how things really are, and our only indication may be in a dream like space–perhaps that of 3-D. Photography’s unique relationship with reality and the retinal therefore serves as a good (rhetorical) tool to draw the viewer closer into this three dimensional space.
To use the metaphor of the camera’s eye floating about, what does this mean in the context of two lenses? Johnathan Crary aptly describes this phenomena and claims that we become part of the stereo photograph and it part of us, when we look into it. He questions the Cartesian structure of vision–the idea of subject / viewer–object / artwork separated in space. “The relation of observer to image is no longer to an object quantified in relation to a position in space, but rather to two dissimilar images whose position simulates the anatomical structure of the observer's body.” This creates a certain privacy within the viewing experience of 3-D, that differs markedly from looking at flat imagery - because of the spacial nature of the visual sphere. One is positioned as the seemingly only viewer.
The prevalent idea that photography offers a ‘window on the world’, it's evidentiary role, or what some refer to as it's ‘retinal’ quality, that sets it apart from painting or drawing. I would argue that it is not set apart by these media.
These might be life experiences, experiences looking at imagery, our ‘image bank’.
Sekula A. On the invention of photographic meaning, in Thinking Photography. (1974). Macmillan. 85.
Evans, D., 1996, An introductory dictionary of Lacanian psychoanalysis, Psychology Press. 159.
Bond, Zizek, xiv
Crary, J., 1992, Techniques of the observer: on vision and modernity in the nineteenth century, The MIT Press, 128.
A N A M O R P H I C D R A W I N G S
These 360° anamorphic drawings explore cultural and historical ideas surrounding the mirror and it’s reflection, vision and perception. Anamorphic Drawing has existed as a technique for 500 years - the first examples appear in Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks. These anamorphic drawings use a cylindrical shaped mirror placed at the center of the drawing, which ‘decodes’ the morphed image on the paper.
Rebecca Hackemann's anamorphs incorporate the cylindrical mirror as an intrinsic part of their meanings. Using fairy tales, psychoanalytical and historical references such as Alice in Through the Looking Glass (sequel to Alice in Wonderland), Jacques Lacan’s mirror phase and the myths of Narcissus, anamorphic ink drawings are created that have two sides. The viewer walks around the drawing and its cylindrical mirror to see another related drawing opposite on the same piece of paper. In the case of Alice in Wonderland, one side shows her going into the mirror, the other side her coming out of it – the mirror becomes a metaphor for ‘The Looking Glass House’ itself.
These works were exhibited at Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta, as well as at Hunter College, who printed a catalogue of the exhibition in 2010 (available upon request).
P U B L I C P R O J E C T S
THE URBAN FIELD GLASS PROJECT
The UFGP consists of custom made aluminium/steel binoculars/stereoscopes, that show stereo 3-D slides of the past and future of the location at which it stands. The passerby turns a crank to rotate the images. The past images are sourced from public photography archives and then converted to 3-D, the future images are created in collaboration with community organizations and open calls.
This project was anchored into the sidewalk at two locations over the Vine Expressway, that was built to slice through Philadelphia's Chinatown. It was also installed in Brooklyn and Manhattan in 2012-13.
The Urban Field Glass Project is available for other cities. Please use the contact form on this site for inquiries or email meATrebeccahackemann.com.
THE PUBLIC UTTERATON MACHINES (project website: utteraton.com)
The Public Utteraton Machine is an interactive public art work that looks like a public telephone from the 19th century. Its aim is to provide a service, gage and record perception of other public art and install public art in unconventional locations in New York (outer boroughs and sidewalks). Results are archived in local libraries.
Currently, little research exists that examines the reasoning behind the locations of public art in New York, as well as what residents might think of it, or wish for it after it has been installed. Whereas 'gallery' art normally has a publicly constituted apparatus of commentary and scholarly interrogation, that surrounds it, public art which exists outside the traditional gallery space paradoxically does not have such an apparatus of dissemination and discourse. There is less public art in the outer boroughs of New York that in the neighborhoods and outer boroughs. The Public Utteraton Machines will, in the form of objects in space provide a counter narrative to this established system of locations. As urban interventions, they will uncover whether people really want, care for or are indifferent towards public art.
If more funding is secured for installation costs, the Public Utteraton Machines are available for other cities and other NY boroughs, such as Harlem or the Bronx.
Fabrication: J.Stemmler, Northpenn Machine Works
Permits: NYC Parks and Recreation
Research support: Kansas State University Dept Art, University of the Arts London