Few photographers have left such an enduring impact on the practice of contemporary photography, and arguably on the state of contemporary art making as Stephen Shore. Exploring a mix of taut, close cropped examinations of modern civilization alongside the varied textures and scenes that marks its intermingling with natural environments and varied foreign agents, Shore’s interest in the present condition is frequently bound up in a series of variations and interpretations along shared themes. Working in series with varied materials and cameras, his work is ever-shifting and precise in its statements, making him an endlessly compelling artist to view.
For his most recent body of work, currently on view at 303 Gallery in Chelsea, Shore is presenting a new series, culled together from his adventures using the recently developed Hasselblad X1D, a digital camera using an iPhone-style touchscreen which allows the artist an almost unprecedented resolution depth for his images. The capacities of his new tools see Shore diving into momentary interactions, micro-arrangements of material often sourced from his surroundings at whatever site he so chooses for the piece. These are pieces made of assembled detritus, of momentary situations driven by Shore’s meticulous and hyper-aware eye. Pieces are composed from scraps of ribbon or cigarette puts, complemented by a single leaf or a bag from Dunkin’ Donuts, countered by piles of leaves. In another work, New York, New York, May 19, 2017, Shore photographs a single twig against a brick wall, building the image structure from the divergent lines of the wall, cement and the gnarled branch bisecting them.
For as much as Shore is invested in the image itself, these are works pulling at the threads of modern man, works interested in man’s slow but steady embedding into the fabric of the world around him. As writers argue that man has entered a new era, the anthropocene, where our varied pieces of physical evidence and impacts on the environment are entering the geological record, Shore takes a moment to examine the points of crossover, the moments when a cast-off bag or discarded cigarette begins its slow fade into the earth, and into its physical archive.
That these pieces would draw so much drama and power from the distinct technological advantages of Shore’s Hasselblad are particularly noteworthy. His photographs here, as much as they document man’s intricate relationship and impacts on the space around him, equally show a perspective more acutely able to perceive these moments of intersection than ever before. The sheer detail, the color and form that these photographs are capable of expressing, trace a perspective as invested in the state of the world as equally as its capacity to mediate and frame it.
The artist’s work is on view through February 17th.
— D. Creahan
Stephen Shore at 303 Gallery [Exhibition Site]