Morgan Fisher

IDEAL FINE GRAIN 120 DECEMBER 1951 (image on left)
2011

NEGATIVE IDEAL FINE GRAIN 120 DECEMBER 1951 (image on right)
2015

archival pigment print
16 x 20 inches each
edition 1 of 2 + 1 AP

An unused roll of 1950s film is the subject of this pair of photographs by Morgan Fisher. The photos document the obsolescence and death of the film, in part as out-of-date technology, but also as an expired, unused commodity that never achieved its intended purpose. The photographs were taken four years apart. On his creation of the negative of his 2011 photographs, Fisher has said:

This simple technical transformation produces images whose identity seems unsettled. The film boxes, unlike many subjects seen as negatives, are instantly intelligible, almost as if they were positives. But the backgrounds, of course negatives too, unexpectedly read only as positives. This is because the backgrounds in the earlier photographs are 18% gray. This gray, a standard in photography, is exactly middle gray, so its negative is identical to its positive. Accordingly we read the gray of the backgrounds, in fact a negative, as the more familiar positive. But if the backgrounds are positives, then so are the boxes, an understanding made likely by their having the easy legibility of positives. And read as positives, the boxes are otherworldly. Adding to the images’ elusive identity, the boxes are almost without shadows. Shadows in a negative are a giveaway because they are light rather than dark, but we notice them only when they are conspicuous, and here they are not. These several factors result in images whose identity is seemingly divided and hence suspended, irresolvable.

Fisher lives and works in LA, and he has had solo exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Whitney Museum; Tate Modern, London; and Kunstverein Hamburg.

estimated retail value: $25,000

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courtesy of the artist and bortolami, new york
gallery website: bortolamigallery.com