Luminous Visions: C. Meier: Pushed/Pulled
This week on Lenscratch, we look at a selection of artists creatively engaging with analog photographic processes within their practice.
In Pushed (2020) and Pulled (2021-ongoing), C. Meier (they/them/theirs) harnesses the potential of analog photography by orchestrating both the physicality of photographic chemistry and chance to create a one-of-kind object. These abstract images are small improvisations in which the making of each Polaroid is an event in itself—liberated from the boundaries imposed onto photographic imagery to document and record. While some images allude to the more traditional photographic subject matter, a horizon line, a sunrise, the interplay of formal elements in each composition defines these abstract images as just that; a cameraless abstraction in which light, color, and time play a crucial role.
An aptitude for learning from one’s failures is necessary when allowing chance and chaos to become a functional aspect of one’s work. With Pushed and Pulled, C. Meier reminds us that photography, especially analog photography, can be fun and playful. And sometimes, if you can see the work through, it can result in absolutely stunning pieces, which would never exist if the artist did not have the courage to play through the failures.
www.cmeier.art and @rispix
I approach making photographs with curiosity, playfulness, and experimentation. Inspired by the concept of Concrete Photography, a sub-genre of Concrete Art, my work aims to embody the truest form of photography by radically dismantling the traditional viewpoints of how time, photo-sensitive material, and representation function in photography. For concrete photographs, the photographic object is the only thing that is real.
The photographs in my series Pushed (2020) and Pulled (2021-ongoing) are not of something, they are something. These Polaroids are made with intuitive actions, occasional additive elements, and inconsistent interactions with light. Creating a set of tactics learned from previous failures, I pair a semi-controlled approach with improvisation and chance. Working sightlessly using a light-proof film developing bag, I give up control of the outcomes by only using touch as a guide, a sense often undervalued in the making of a photograph.
Cameraless, the Polaroid film offers a canvas of immediacy and physicality, processed through a self- contained set of chemistry spread across the film. The interaction between my hand, light sensitive material, and chemistry ignites a visual play of color and form. By embracing the unpredictability of these processes the work can never be replicated and the specific physical actions that took place to make the object cannot be reproduced. Like a painting, each image is unique. The final result is a fixed photographic object that recalls its own process of conception through materiality.
C. Meier (American, b. 1982, they/them/theirs) is an artist and curator based in Portland, OR. Their artistic practice explores materiality, reveling in the hybridization of processes including drawing and photographic methods. They earned their MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago (2017) and BFA in Studio Art from Pacific Lutheran University (2004). Meier has exhibited at Hyde Park Art Center, Mana Contemporary (Chicago), Filter Space, The Neon Heater, Blue Sky, Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts, among others, and their work is part of the permanent collection of Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, WA). Meier co-curated the 2017 exhibition re:collection at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (MoCP), and curated the 2023 exhibition Size Matters for Medium Photo, San Diego. Professional roles include Curatorial Assistant (2015-2017) and Collections Manager/ Registrar (2018-2020) at the MoCP, Studio Assistant to Barbara Kasten (2019-2020), and Exhibitions Manager (2021 – current), at Blue Sky, Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts.
Posts on Lenscratch may not be reproduced without the permission of the Lenscratch staff and the photographer.
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