2010 Winners - Runner-up: Jordan Tate
Jordan Tate’s latest work wrestles with one of the key contemporary preoccupations of our field: photography qua photography. In other words: How do we see? What are suitable subjects for photography? And what are viable means of image-making?
Tate’s work belongs to a growing group of photographers indebted to predecessors Christopher Williams and James Welling. Tate pushes the conversation beyond nostalgia and squarely into the present, however, by indulging in screen-based images and non-traditional output methods like lenticular screens, animated gifs, and 3-D anaglyphs. Take, for example, an image like New Work # 50, in which the “marching ants”—familiar to anyone with working knowledge of Photoshop—become embedded in the final image. These animated “selection” lines are usually a momentary visual reference or trace of an artist’s working process—here, they are transformed into the raison d’etre for the image.
His images frequently focus on indicators of an image in the making—a photograph of a Polaroid that could easily be an exposure/lighting test for a studio shoot; the depiction of an iPhone screen filled with what appears to be a color bar; a web browser in the midst of download. All of these have become part of the familiar lingua franca of contemporary image making and image sharing, but usually are kept behind-the-scenes. Boldly, Tate features these elements front and center.
In another über-contemporary nod, Tate adopts a mode of working in which the traditional idea of a coherent style or artist series is dismissed, allowing room for seemingly disparate image-making modes to coexist within a single body of work. This series is titled, in an appropriately deadpan manner, New Work. However, it’s not that the work is interesting just because it’s new; it’s interesting because it offers a compelling and quirky exploration of the work involved in new photography.