Professor Lipps: A photographic mindset for future memories

Monday, April 28, 2014

To explore society’s relationship with photography in this age of selfies and smart-phone cameras, Assistant Professor of Art Matt Lipps takes a look at the 20th century in his latest solo exhibition, The Populist Camera, at the Jessica Silverman Gallery in San Francisco. Mixing pieces from Time-Life’s 1970s manual Library of Photography, in front of colorized 35-millimeter images from his own student days, Lipps pays homage to analog photography and darkrooms while posing questions about the digital future of the medium.

“It’s interesting to me that we live in a photographic mindset, creating memories for the future,” Lipps says in a March 26 San Francisco Chronicle article. “If you have a birthday party, you want to get that image of candles being blown out and everyone looking happy.”

To create the new photographs, Lipps cut out and assembled almost 500 figures from the Time-Life books, building cardboard structures for them, so they become autonomous, moveable “actors.” He then arranges and lights his cutout figures, rephotographs them and subsequently prints the images larger than the original reproductions.

“The result is an exhibition of Wunderkammern, cabinets of curiosity that contain samples of thrilling photographic imagery and create a persuasive argument for the continued relevance of analog methods,” Sarah Hotchkiss writes in a review for KQED Arts.

Works from Lipps’ same series were featured last fall at Marc Selwyn Fine Art in Los Angeles. “A reflexive game of who’s who recognition (There’s an August Sander! And there’s a Harold Edgerton!) offers some pleasure,” Leah Ollman writes in a November 19 Los Angeles Times review. “As does the evolving awareness that this may be an exercise in taxonomy and archive-building, but it is also, and most engagingly, an idiosyncratic, fractured form of storytelling.”

Lipps received his Master of Fine Arts from University of California, Irvine. His work is in the collection of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art and Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Pilara Foundation/Pier 24 and Saatchi Gallery.

The Populist Camera is on display through May 10.

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