NOTE: Urban Modifications is on exhibit at Vinyl on Vinyl at The Collective in Malugay.
Seize The Daze
Photography has always been embroiled in the question of impropriety: what is it that you seize, that you catch in a frozen frame, other than what is expected, if not what is obvious?
Living within social media the discussion has become more complex, where the photography of daily life is about the creation of a perfected self, one defined by objects and moments deemed unique, or special. This is of course a delusion in itself, where the task of capture is about engaging a public via likes | shares | hashtags – asserting a relationship between one experience and another, effectively dissolving the specificity of experience into the creation of a virtual community.
If social media is the medium through which this crisis has been revealed, it is urbanity that cradles this disconnect between normalized (over-)shared experience and photography as individual expression. Contemporary urban development has created a financially mobile and technologically adept sector that lives this contradiction, oblivious to its toxic by-product: the dishonest re-presentation of individual lives and the creation of community premised on unstable commonality.
The task of capture is now not only improper. Photography of the everyday has become an act of boorishness, a vulgar display of one’s life in pictures. Imbued with new meaning and functionality by the one taking photos and the community that (dis-)agrees, the photographic subject is systematically decontextualized and necessarily disrespected.
Urban Modifications interrogates this state of affairs, revealing what these photographed objects ultimately become. Tourist attractions (tarsier, the eagle, the maya bird), everyday objects (a piggy bank, the lucky cat Maneki Neko, a camera, a gun) and subjects (a cat, the heart), and food (a hamburger, isaw on a stick, a mango) are exposed as nothing but disjointed parts. The artist’s signature wayward eye, nuts and bolts, innards and entrails, plants and flowers recreate these non-photographs, where all that is left of an object is its shape.
The critique is clear: the personal social media gallery is made up not of images that do justice to living, but of chaotic assemblages that reveal urbanity’s remains. This is what we use to define “us.” This is who we are.
Welcome to this city, where we seize the daze.
— Katrina Stuart Santiago, May 2015.