Susan Seubert at the 2017 Venice Biennale: Virtual Tour

My show at the 2017 Venice Biennale opened last week and there was much rejoicing.  This is a true milestone in my career as an artist, so a group of us gathered, drank Prosecco and toasted to the beautiful city of Venice.  I’ll be heading back later this year to the Palazzo Bembo, where the show, “Personal Structures,” will be on display until November 26th.  If you are going to be in Venice, this 15th century building is about a block from the Rialto Bridge and admission is free. If you can’t make it, here is a 360 degree view of the installation of my work, from the, “Asphyxiation” series.  You can also look at the work on my web site here.

 

Photographer Susan Seubert in Smithsonian Magazine

The April issue of Smithsonian Magazine features a photograph that I made on assignment in Washington, D.C. last November.  I was invited by the magazine to make an image of the Green Book, a guide first published in 1937 for African Americans who traveled by car and needed to navigate the segregated United States.  The magazine was started by Victor H. Green, a black postal carrier from Harlem.  It began as a slim, 15-page directory with recommendations in the New York area and listed safe places for black travelers to visit. These included gas stations, hotels, beauty salons, golf courses and even individuals who welcomed people into their homes.  The guidebook grew as people contributed to the directory and eventually this publication encompassed areas outside of the U.S. You can read the story here.  The image was created using the wet-plate collodion technique, known as an Ambrotype, a photographic process that dates back to about 1851 and was used as documentary photography tool during the American Civil War.  I have used this process for a variety of applications from magazine stories to personal projects.

The Green Book, photographed at the archives of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Green Book, photographed at the archives of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

 

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Susan Seubert’s Fine Art Exhibit, “The Fallacy of Hindsight”

"Entwined", 50x40", Digital Pigment Print from Wet Plat Collodion Negative, 2015, edition of 15, signed, numbered and dated on verso, model: Twinka Thiebaud

“Entwined”, 50×40″, Digital Pigment Print from Wet Plate Collodion Negative, 2015, edition of 15, signed, numbered and dated on verso, model: Twinka Thiebaud

April 2015 is “Photo Month” in Portland and to celebrate I’ve mounted an exhibition at the Froelick Gallery entitled, “The Fallacy of Hindsight.”

You can read a review of the show by David Stabler here.

“Looking back, all of us could have made different choices that would have affected our lives today. A job taken or not. A relationship pursued or not. A relocation at a pivotal moment. Susan Seubert’s small, evocative photographs at Froelick Gallery spring from her past, documenting choices she made over the past 25 years.”

The work addresses notions of hindsight bias and memory. In conjunction with the Photolucida Events, I’ll be speaking at the gallery on April 25th at 11am.  The talk is free and open to the public and I hope to see many of you there!  The Froelick Gallery is located near the intersection of NW Davis and Broadway at 714 NW Davis in the DeSoto Building.

Following is the press release:

“In her solo exhibit, renowned photographer Susan Seubert will exhibit two distinct bodies of work on the subject of hindsight bias. 100 Memories, a series of 100 5″ x 5″ photographs recreating moments from the past 25 years of her life, alternating between literal depiction and emotional interpretation of events. Through these she examines her own choices and biases. The High Arctic is a series of photographs taken in June 2014 in the archipelago of Svalbard, where “the vast fields of broken ice sheets demonstrate global warming in the most literal of lamentable illustrations”. Entwined, a stand-alone work, shows its subject holding a large ball of twine which wraps around her face, conjuring feelings of being bound by one’s own thoughts while also possessing the means to control them.”

Here is a glimpse of the installation:

The installation at the Froelick Gallery of Susan Seubert's show, "The Fallacy of Hindsight"

The installation at the Froelick Gallery of Susan Seubert’s show, “The Fallacy of Hindsight”

 

 

 

Fine Art Photography: The Digital Divide by Susan Seubert

Yet another long overdue post…

This year I was one of  24 artists/teams selected for the citywide Oregon Biennial, Portland2012 which was held earlier this year. Portland2012, the Biennial of Contemporary Art, is a major survey of work by visual artists who are defining and advancing the contemporary arts landscape in the state.  The show was presented by Disjecta and curated by Prudence F. Roberts.

My installation at Disjecta is titled, “The Digital Divide,” and consists of a series of QR codes installed in the gallery which, when scanned with a smart phone or other hand-held device, takes the viewer to videos and/or text.  The artist statement follows below.  You can view the installation on my fine art web site here.  The videos can be watched by scanning the QR codes from your computer screen, or by visiting the multimedia portion of my web site.  I would like to thank the fabulous people at Disjecta, Ms. Roberts, Marc Greenfield and all the volunteers that helped make this piece possible.  Tri-Met was a wonderful sponsor and included some stills from the videos on the sides of buses and on bus stop shelters throughout the city of Portland.

A still from, “The Digital Divide” installed on the side of a Tri-Met bus as part of Disjecta’s Portland2012, A Biennial of Contemporary Art

A still from “The Digital Divide,” an installation piece for Disjecta’s Portland2012, A Biennial of Contemporary Art.

The following is the artist statement for the piece:

To explore ideas of toxic waste, environmental impact due to rapid changes in technology, specifically communications technology, I have chosen to create a series of videos, which are accessible via QR codes using smart-phone technology. New methods of communication, (cell phones, smart phones, computers), have created forms of consumption which have had a direct correlation to the environmental impact of that consumption. Although not obvious, many natural resources are used to manufacture technological goods that we now rely on for communication. These materials are often harvested from third world nations, the most famous example being the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the thirst for Colton has fueled violent conflict. Some heavy metals are used in the manufacturing of communication technology such as cadmium, lead and arsenic. The rapid change in such things as processor speed and memory capacity has led to an enormous turnover in electronic hardware waste. (One statistic cites that the performance values of Information and Communication Technology double every 18 months.)
QR (Quick Response) codes are a type of matrix barcode, which consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. They were designed by the Japanese in the early 1990’s to track vehicles during the manufacturing process. The use of the QR code is growing as a point-of-purchase symbol, where the consumer can scan the code and be taken to a video about whatever product to which the code is connected. The codes can be used for urls, text or numeric information. The problem is that the consumer must have a smart phone, access to the Internet and the application that allows the camera to read the code. Using QR codes as a method of communication, in order to see the actual visual information it conveys, most of which could normally be seen using our eyes through traditional media, one must use a camera. Eyes will simply no longer suffice to handle the task of reading, (i.e de-coding), the image.
Semaphore signal videos installed on the Internet, transmitted to the viewer via QR codes, emphasizes the digital divide that is currently prevailing in our global culture.
Working on the assumption that most viewers of this piece will not be able to read the semaphore signals as letters, (which form a sentence relevant to each location where the video was made), and that there will also be a number of viewers who will not have the relevant technology to read the QR codes, the piece will have effectively alienated the viewer from at least one critical portion of the piece, therefore encompassing both ends of the digital divide. I chose to use the Semaphore code because it is being phased out as a means of communication. Although it is still used in certain military situations, (such as refueling ships or moving munitions at sea), it will soon be gone as a method of communication. The Semaphore Flags system is used for conveying information at a distance by means of visual signals with hand-held flags.

file under: Serious Talent

When I looked at yesterday’s Oregonian Newspaper, I was quite pleased to read Barry Johnson’s article about Plazm Magazine’s new issue.  In today’s economic climate, it’s extremely difficult for all media outlets to keep on keepin’ on, but even more challenging to publish an independent magazine about culture, art, and design, (among other esoteric subjects).  Plazm Magazine received a grant plus some Kickstarter money in order to keep up its great work and just launched its most recent issue, number 30.  To be associated with Plazm Magazine is a tremendous honor, but even better when my name is included with “seriously talented” people like John Jay, Todd Haynes and Yoko Ono.  You can read the article here.

Plazm Magazine from the archives

Wet Plate Collodion Photographer Susan Seubert reviewed in Equine

Any ink is good ink and this morning I was pleased to read a review in The Oregonian of the group show that my work is in at the Froelick Gallery called, “Equine.”  I made the piece that was curated into this show for my last exhibition, ” r e s t r a i n t.”  When the gallery owner saw the piece, he decided to hold it for this show.  The image is of a bridle with blinders and made with the wet plate collodion process. This piece has sold to a private collector, but I’ve included the image below and there is a link to the review here.  It’s always satisfying when an arts writer understands the territory I’m negotiating with my work and this brief review is no exception.  Thank you Bob Hicks!

"Horse Bridle with Blinders," 5x4", ambrotype, 2011

 

 

fine art photographer Susan Seubert working in wet-plate collodion

Greetings!  The holiday season is upon us already… my how time flies.  Last week was a flurry of assignments but with the annual slowing down of work around this time of year, I usually take some time to work on personal projects.  This year is no exception.  My good friend and mentor, Jody Ake moved to Portland recently and agreed to give me a refresher course on wet-plate collodion.  For a one-person show in 2009 during Portland’s biennial photo festival, Photolucida, I showed a group of 25 full plate ambrotypes – a study of birds nests that I created during a workshop in 2008 at the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts that Jody taught. This piece was also included in the Tacoma Art Museum’s 2009 Northwest Biennial.

grid of 8x10" ambrotypes entitled, "Nest"

Since that show, I’ve been busily filling print orders and taking assignments and have not had a large enough block of time to get back into the wet darkroom… until now!  Often I use my holiday card as a conceptually simplistic way to get my creative ball rolling again.  I’m looking forward to continuing to work in the wet-plate process making not only ambrotypes, but also ferrotypes.  Happy Holidays!

wet-plate ambrotype of mercury glass ornaments