Tasmanian artist, Paul Snell, operates in a post-photographic world, producing vibrant, minimalist works in photo-media, seeking to transcend traditional photographic modes. Startlingly colourful is one way of describing Snell’s digital-imaging; the works are at once bright and consuming, meditative and intense, an assault of colour on unprepared eyes, and yet, there is a fierce intellectualism behind Snell’s process.
The works are imbued with an immediacy and inherency, self-referential and self-contained pieces that are almost anti-representation – viewers experience Snell’s work through a purely formalist lens. ‘Decoding New York’ moves another step forward, channeling the focus towards a phenomenological approach to the consumption of image and location.
Art Almanac spoke with Snell on the eve of his latest exhibition with Edmund Pearce Gallery in Melbourne, ‘Decoding New York’.
What would you say was the inspiration behind this current body of work?
This body of work continues to involve furthering the concepts of reduction (of form, space, line and material) and the effect of colour as visual signature. The absence of signs or objects invites the viewer to drift among primal and tonal aesthetic matter. The aim has been to immerse the viewer in colour, rhythm and space, creating a sensory experience of inner contemplation and transcendence.
It is here that I believe the work finds its all-important critical edge, by visually referencing historical conventions (formal abstraction, minimalism) associated with Modernism, while remaining firmly implanted in the hybrid optical world of today.
You draw a literal connection between your work and New York in this exhibition, can you elaborate on that?
We are all linked through systems of networks. This networked world has provided the basis for my current practice and the translating of digital tracks into readable and understandable visualisations.
‘Decoding New York’ begins in Tasmania via Google Earth. I randomly selected 5 locations within central New York from the comfort of my own studio. The location is integral to the work and yet irrelevant at the same time. Once in New York, these locations became the focus of extensive exploration, documentation and data collection. Each space was documented over several weeks and became an accurate visual representation of the locations. Through the re-structuring, removing and refining of data I have attempted to throw off the shackles of the conventional representation of New York.
You work in a non-traditional photographic medium; I’m interested in how you see your work’s relationship to photography?
This body of work investigates the transformation of photographic modes of production and the manipulation and exploitation of data to invent new visual forms. The work also suggests an allegiance with contemporary concrete photography with its aim to reveal the many possibilities of photography and its interest in formal aesthetics.
Can you tell me a little about your process, and how it has developed over the course of your career?
Each piece I create is an edition of 1, almost unique except for the artist proof. I am interested in the idea of the image as object and the object being unique. Being a unique object I find the idea of deconstructing its manufacture and in turn its process in the least distracting. I would find it impossible to have any kind of experience with, or be seduced by, a work that revealed too much.
Edmund Pearce Gallery
Until 20 July, 2013
ArtHamptons Art Fair, NY
11-14 July, 2013
NY # 40.74N 74.00W, 2013, unique Lambda metallic print, 80 x 300cm
NY # 40.75N 73.98W, 2013, unique Lambda metallic print, 80 x 300cm
Courtesy the artist and Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne