Thursday, April 28, 2011

Doug Prince-Review, Art NE

Particles and Waves-231, 2011

Particles and Waves-235, 20

Doug Prince: Particles and Waves
Soo Rye Gallery
Rye, New Hampshire
May 26 - July 30, 2011

            Douglas Prince's Particles and Waves explores the photographer's fascination with the digital world and his role as a transmitter of that world. In this work, a computer monitor replaces a viewfinder, in the service of a post-modern form of observation and image-making: The resulting images are aesthetic and profane, aloof and fetishistic.
Prince appropriates source material from a democratic cross-section of Internet images, including pornography, medical and scientific websites, and popular culture.
In his Particles and Waves series, however, there is a preponderance of nudes. The images are closely cropped, abstracted, and partially obscured by surface effects that unexpectedly heighten their eroticism. Particles and Waves 235, for instance, presents a nude female torso floating in an abstract digital space. The head and limbs of the subject are masked and blended into the background; breasts and torso emerge from a sea of digital pattern, much like Gustav Klimt's nudes emerge from swaths of dizzying surface design. Image 235 is in this way typical of Prince's fetishistic tendency to reveal and conceal, represent and abstract, in a sort of static, digitized striptease.
As high art birthed from the broadest possible source material, Particles and Waves abounds in intentional paradox. Particles and Waves 231 presents a female torso that looks like a classical Roman sculpture twisted away from us in a dynamic pose. Surrounding the figure is a ground or space that has been digitally manipulated to look like mesh or netting, studded with jagged, abstract forms and light effects. The result is both familiar and alien. We imagine a solarized photograph of a sylvan nude, stooping under foliage, her back dappled in shadows; we see a decapitated sculpture, stuck in wire mesh, surrounded by an explosion of plaster in some technological dystopia.
While the images from Particles and Waves conjure a fragmenting range of associations (contour maps, surrealist solarized photographs, classical antiquity, pornography, and even that pixilated digital file that you wouldn't dream of printing), they are grayscaled and meticulously worked to achieve a unifying aesthetic. Arguably, it is their teetering between fragmentation and unification that comprises the central meaning or duality of Particles and Waves. Theirs is an unsettling balance that somehow perfectly reflects life in the digital age.

- Rane Hall                                 
Art New England
Volume 32, Issue 3
May/June, 2011