Oh, Very, Yes!, detail 1
Oh, Very, Yes!, detail 2
I think of cameras, along with photographs, as cultural artifacts. In the same way that an anthropologist can look at jewelry or clothing to learn about the culture that created those things, the design of a camera and the photos it takes can tell us about the culture that created them.
The camera, as we know it today, evolved out of Renaissance painting experiments in linear-perspective. A few curious chemists simply put a piece of light-sensitive paper in the light path. As a result of this particular history, photographic images still bear a strong aesthetic kinship with western painting. Stripped of its cultural history a “camera” is simply an enclosed object with a hole in one side through which light enters. As such, the camera predates photography by thousands of years. With these factors of origin, evolution, and technology as a starting point, my work asks the question: “what would photography look like if it had grown out of a different aesthetic tradition?”
The photos I make explore the representation of space, time, and narrative through a panoramic style. Using a specially modified camera I shoot directly onto long rolls of color slide-film. The image fills the entire film-strip, without any frame breaks, looking much like a photographic scroll. The strips of slide-film, which can be up to 100-ft long, are displayed on light-boxes. The long horizontal strips of film serve as both as a measure of the dimensions of the subject and also as a record of the subjects movement over time.
With an extensive background in the visual and performing arts, Kwabena Slaughter brings together fresh new ideas on the nature of art and aesthetic experience. His current work in photography investigates the relationship between the camera, photography, and the painting traditions that precede it. Instead of accepting the historical narrative that leads from linear-perspective, through the camera obscura, to photography; Kwabena imagines an alternative history, one in which photography grows out of scroll-painting. Working with cameras that the artist modifies himself, Kwabena makes single images that occupy the entire length of a strip of slide-film. These strips of film can be up to 60-feet long.
Kwabena’s video and photographic work has been shown at premier institutions in the U.S. and abroad, including the New Museum, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. He has been a resident at the Art Omi International Artists Residency, the Center for Photography at Woodstock, the Bronx Museum’s AIM Program,
and Smack Mellon Gallery. His grant credits include the New Media and Technology Grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. Kwabena’s performing arts credits include acting in the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, dancing with a trapeze-dance company, and stage-managing for a clown school. His writing on aesthetics has been published in the journal “Philosophy and Social Action”.