Uta Barth

Uta Barth

I sometimes wonder how long it takes artists to ever formulate answers to the questions people ask about their work. And I wonder too what the balance has to be between actually creating work and being able to talk about your work…and whether there is some kind of scale. In any case, I think that Uta Barth, even though she is a photographer, when she talks about her work, she speaks of many of the things that I try to do in painting. I wonder how long it has taken her to be able to describe what she is trying to do. I understand it well and I quote her from an interview with Cameron Turner in Precipitate

“For me, I want visual art to be about visual experience. All of my work has the same central ideas: to make perception the central subject of the work; to capture the ambient, the peripheral, and the everyday information that catches my eyes’ attention; and to trace the movement of light as it renders the passage of time. The aim of everything I have made is to make you aware of your perceptual engagement, first through my work and the gallery space and then as you leave and go on with your life.”

It seems that when we look at things we focus on certain subjects or objects, but there is a lot going on around those things that contributes to the ambience or the feeling of that moment. I think Barth refers to it as a ‘depth of field’ that stuff that creates depth – that’s what I concentrate on I think that’s what she is talking about too. But you see how she says is so much better than ‘that stuff that creates depth’!

“I want the work to draw you into the moment of experience with hope that my being “present” invites you to be present in the act of seeing what hangs on the wall (then the wall, the room, on and on); but all the countless questions and comments that have been written about memory must mean that, somehow, it is in play, with or without intent. My guess is that this association happens because the early images are so devoid of specificity of location that everyone fills in the blanks. I can’t count the number of times people have told me that some image from the “Field” series was photographed near their own house or in a town they had grown up in. When I ask where they are from, it never turns out to be true, and the viewers walk away confused and holding on to the possibility that I may be wrong.”

I have had this experience as well. And actually I like this because it means that people are thinking about seeing. At least for a moment. Barth uses a camera, “I have always made photographs, as our eyes are so much like the camera’s lens. We experience depth-of-field, or lack thereof, just as the lens does in my work; yet our eyes dart about so fast we have a hard time noticing it.” So it makes me think that I should consider the reason why I have always painted. There is something to do with layers. Perhaps this too is related to the way we see. Or perhaps it is more to do with the pure physicality in paint. I haven’t yet tried to put my finger on it. Hence the blog. A place to organise ideas and develop them into a coherent description of my work and the reasons for it.

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