Sunday, March 27, 2011

REVIEW: Lowell Snowdon Klock at the Brandon Artist Guild in Brandon

By Liza Myers

Manipulated Polaroids by Lowell Snowdon Klock

The Brandon Artist Guild is currently featuring an exhibition of Manipulated Polaroid images by photographer Lowell Snowdon Klock. The intimate size of these images compels the viewer to approach closely and examine the world through the photographer’s eye.

The images are diverse. Landscapes, interior scenes, pastoral settings, still lifes and motorized vehicles – trucks, trains, and antique cars are united by dynamic composition and saturated color. Delicate, slightly wavy diagonals inform us about light and shadow, venetian blinds, truck radiators.

In an era dominated by digital photos, Ms. Klock puts her SX-70 Polaroid Camera to good use. Invented in 1972, the camera features a unique, hermetically sealed packet of liquid photo-chemicals. This chemical soup produces a fixed photograph approximately one minute after exposure to light. Klock must work quickly to achieve the desired alteration. Using her fingers, a bone folder or other un-sharp object she presses and prods the emulsion, creating a painterly effect as the emulsion squishes within the packet.

Klock states: “Delineation is diffused and often expresses more of a feeling rather than structured composition. One has no idea where this will go and where to start. This mystery is what makes the process so enjoyable and addicting.”

While the viewer might anticipate a smeared mess, the delicate effects accomplished in this process are quite lovely. Klock’s manipulations are deft and intentional, resulting in a finely detailed, almost watercolor effect, transforming the literal into a magical, new reality.

Artists such as Lucas Samara seized upon this new technology in the mid-70’s, developing methods to alter the emulsion and distort the image, enhancing it in the process. Klock follows in this tradition. It is important to note that without a finely composed photograph as a starting point these manipulated images might be gimmicky. But this is not just about technique. Klock’s skillful photographer’s eye captures dynamic compositions in everyday images: vegetables on the kitchen counter, the brightly lit radiator of an old truck, a beckoning pair of Adirondack chairs. Klock's eye discovers subtle visual relationships in pattern and color. In MG Grill, the almost zebra-like pattern of the metallic radiator grille is punctuated by spherical forms which reveal themselves as multiple reflective headlights. In Coffee Exchange, the ribbon-like ripples in a simple water bottle echo the linear shadows of a venetian blind.

This show is definitely worth a slow perusal. It will be on display at the Brandon Artists Guild at 7 Center Street (Rte 7) in Brandon, VT until April 30.

Hours are 10-5 daily. Phone: 802-247-4956

Images: MG Grille, Coffee Exchange, Under the Umbrella, all Manipulated Polaroids