John Neff is back in New York and this time he brings his A-game to the Lower East Side/East Village as he presents his latest collection of photographs at the Golden Gallery. The exhibiton which opens on the 5TH September and runs till the end of October is already promising to be one of the “freshest” photography exhibits in New York.
His latest work nods to his premeditated swing away from the expansion of multi-media abstract projects and towards a more distinct conclusion in terms of his style. Over the past 18 months, Neff has been using cameras amassed from a hodgepodge of equipment such as altered consumer grade scanners to early twentieth century large and medium format cameras. The focal point of the exhibition was the immediate environment around him, as he captures the beauty of contemporary life, even if the equipment he is using is slightly out-dated.
The chosen devices capture images using a slow linear scanning, instead of a full field sensor, which makes them prone to sometimes capricious and wayward mechanical and optical irregularities. Though these photographs are aesthetically stunning, as he captures life in the 21st century through the eyes of a 20th century device.
Additionally to these slight camera complications come the factor that the equipment used does not use a range or view finder. For those who are unfamiliar with this, it means that compositional adjustments have to be made between, rather than before the shots are taken. This requires the subjects to cooperate extensively as the time consuming framing work and exposure process becomes apparent, or the photographs would just be a big blur.
The photographs on display here stylistically recall the straight photography of the great American Modernism movement, whose important strain of 20th century art now largely lie dormant like a sleeping volcano ready to erupt. The pictures also are incites into intimate social encounters very much similar to that between a painter and his subjects.
Neff’s equipment of a tripod mounted scanner camera and laptop (merely a power source and storage device) highlight the great social meetings within distinguished scenes.
These photographs are beautiful and as you learn more about the techniques used you understand more of their splendour. They are documents but rebelliously so, as the sudden capture of these decisive moments is slowed to around half a minute. Therefore, these images are neither spontaneous nor staged giving them a rather original quality in a field of instant success or failure in terms of image.
This is a really interesting exhibit for anyone who has ever picked up a camera whether they are film or digital, old or new and has all of the qualities of a great show. You could say it’s a golden show, but that is far too cheesy!