Creation year 2013
Dimensions 90 x 120 cm
Technique Chromogenic print, cutting edge photography
Travess Smalley’s works bring enveloping full-body abstraction back into the vocabulary of cutting edge photography. Each print demands attention with authority, pulling the viewer into an all-over investigation of tiny surface details and textures, swathed in tones of gentle grey or rich black. They’re the kind of pictures to get lost in, to stand in front of and slowly scan from edge to edge in search of discoveries. For those of us who revel in the ever-expanding definitions of photography and its often unlikely list of experimental processes, Smalley’s modelling clay on the glass surface of a flatbed scanner images fit right into the now customary step-by-step discussions of the newfangled procedure.
For this particular body of work, there is a resolutely physical interaction going on – Smalley pushes, pulls, kneads, and twists the clay, squishing it with his fingertips, rolling it over, and pressing it down until it smears and reforms, filling the available surface with smooth flatness and dented, pocked holes. Smalley’s whorled fingerprints decorate the clay, turning into exaggerated striations and lines that populate the surface. When the scanned compositions are then printed out at enormous scale, tiny cracks and flaws become monumental, and refracted light from the scanning process adds minuscule rainbow flares to curves and undulations. It’s like looking through a microscope and seeing an entirely new world of gestural textures.