Reciprocity of Light

Brandon Lattu

November 12, 2010 – January 29, 2011 545 West 23rd Street
light installation in gallery
light installation in gallery
light installation in gallery

Press Release

Leo Koenig Inc. is pleased to present Reciprocity of Light, Brandon Lattu’s third solo exhibition with the gallery. In what has become his characteristic manner of working, the Los Angeles-based artist presents a wide array of works that question the viability of serial art production within the current state of cultural production. Working interstitially between traditional media Lattu presents a room-sized installation, sculptures, a photograph, and a stereographic video work that problematize the use of photography as a means of referential representation and examine photography’s structural relation to abstraction and the readymade.

Reciprocity of Light shares its title with the exhibition’s centerpiece, a large light-sensitized room that occupies the front gallery. Hung low from the middle of the ceiling, a single glowing bulb casts the viewer’s shadow against the scrim-covered walls. Behind the scrims, multiple sets of light cells respond instantaneously, producing a low resolution image in the form of the shadow. The action of the cells demonstrates photography’s indexical nature by abstracting the form and motion of the body in real time, but in reverse – as the body’s shadow instead reappears as a luminescent field. This work investigates the basic photographic reversal of the negative by presenting it as a phenomenological effect that is experienced spatially.

Just beyond the room lies another presentation of time-based photographic operations that take a sculptural form in space. Seven Projections (2010) comprises seven asymmetric pyramids sharing a common base. Each pyramid progresses from white at the base through shades of gray up to black at the peak, referencing the transmission of light in the photographic sources from which they are made. In 2005-2006 the artist took seven photographs over a period of seven months of a particular coffee table strewn with magazines in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. Each pyramid serves as the material surrogate for perspectival projection from one camera lens station point to the table’s surface. The resulting accumulation presents an index of the camera’s perspective as sculptural volume. A composite montage of the magazines on the table’s surface from the original photographs lies hidden underneath the sculpture’s support, which is a recreation of the original table.

Isolated on the far wall of the main gallery, Rampart (2001/2010) pairs two seemingly identical images: on the left a photograph made in 2001 and on the right a ten-minute looped video from 2010. The subject of the work is the infamous Rampart Police Station in Los Angeles, which was closed in 2008 after a series of public scandals made it a symbol of police misconduct. Rampart does what the de-commissioning of the station by the LAPD made more difficult: it memorializes the site in a pictorial space by combining two divergent temporal registers: a fraction of a second from 2001 (when the Rampart scandal was being discussed in the press), placed alongside an extended view in video from 2010, after historical amnesia has begun to take hold, making the absent image from the period of corruption by law enforcement a subject as a specter. This piece continues Lattu’s work using the device of stereoscopic photography against the grain, linking paired images to visualize relations other than the evocation of depth. In this case, rather than linking partial images to form a resolved albeit illusory whole, he splits a seemingly resolved image into a tense dichotomy for the purpose of evoking memory.

Lattu’s recent series of Random Composition (2010) wall pieces each present a monochromatic image plane that protrudes outwards from the wall as the color from the front spills over the edge and fades onto the discrete images that occupy each side. Every compositional element has been chosen randomly: the color, the dimensions, and the images, which come from an archive of 95,000 photographs that the artist has made since 2003. While the works are generated by a system of random selection, the artist has chosen to produce only several from the limitless number of potential results. If, historically, the random generation of compositional elements served to efface subjective choice, these works re-orient this modernist trope and complicate the oppositional relationship between the industrial representation of the photograph and the projective blankness of monochrome painting.

The largest ‘monochrome’ in the back gallery Mickey Rourke (2009) is a twelve foot-long color photograph that documents a mural of the actor on a freeway underpass in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. In a statement for the work’s exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau in Amsterdam last year, the artist describes the piece as such: “Underneath the gray paint lies a photorealistic mural by Ruben Soto titled I Know Who I Am from 1990 that depicts the actor Mickey Rourke in a boxing stance. The mural was painted over in December of 2008 (after the release of Rourke’s career-reviving film, The Wrestler) to deter the constant graffiti tags that this location has long attracted, leaving only the two bas-relief wrapped fists at the bottom center to indicate the mural’s obscured presence.” As is the case with most photographs, the interpretation of this work requires anecdotal information, in this instance: the history of the mural, the urban site and the actor’s persona. This information is correlated to the means by which a viewer interprets a monochrome painting (which the photograph suggests), accompanied by an understanding of the history of the repression of representation.

Brandon Lattu has had solo exhibitions at Vacio 9, Madrid, Spain, Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver and the Kunstverein Bielefeld, Germany. Recent group shows he has participated in include How Many Billboards, MAK Center for Art and Architecture, West Hollywood, CA, Walker Evans and the Barn at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Tractatus Logico-Catalogicus, Vox centre centre de l’image contemporaine, Montreal, Quebec, and The Movement of Images, at the Centre Pompidou, National Museum of Modern Art Paris. Lattu’s work will be in an upcoming exhibition, Image for Image, at the Museum Ostwall, Dortmunder, Germany. He lives and works in Los Angeles and is an associate professor at UC Riverside.