For many years, I worked on various motion picture productions as an Assistant Cameraman. My artwork and the process of it’s creation is very influenced and reflective of that time spent working on movies. Each photograph that I create begins with the construction of a miniature diorama. In a sense, the dioramas are like miniature film sets.
Each photograph begins with an empty work table and a camera on a tripod. The perspective of the camera’s lens is key. Everything is built to that point of view. This process comes in part out of economical necessity as well as limitations brought about by depth of field. When working with a wide angle lens in very close proximity there is often issue of degrees of visual distortion as well as a limited plane of focus. By varying the scale of objects, a deeper sense of depth and space can be created.
The work featured in Dream State comes from two different projects. However, both series play off of and look to ideas of space exploration.
Ground Control evolved out of an NPR interview with a scientist discussing the most economical way to send humans to Mars. The proposal centers around making it a one way trip. The prospect of traveling to Mars while leaving everything and everyone you know behind, was fascinating. Especially since the age parameter that they set, made me a prime candidate. But what stuck with me was the shear number of people asking to volunteer. People with no skill set for space exploration but who truly believe that it is their life calling. That was whose mind I wanted to play within and explore. I wanted to imagine how that obsession for space could manifest itself.
One of my photographs included in the Dream State exhibit is the title image for Ground Control. It makes reference to a well known NASA photo of Neil Armstrong descending to the surface of the moon. Looking to and referencing images from photo history has been an element that I work with, and has resurfaced in my work many times. I originally began referencing other photos as a Graduate Student at RIT. Other examples of photographs that I have referenced include Death of a Rebel Sharpshooter by Alexander Gardner as well as, Frederick Church’s snapshot of George Eastman on the deck of the S.S. Gallia. To me, all of my photographs are in part about photography. This is one way that I chose to reflect upon it.
With the second series, Voyager, I continue to use Space as an inspiration and touchstone. Where Ground Control can be brash and border on the fantastical, Voyager is intimate, quiet, and introspective. Focusing on perceptions of the passage of time, Voyager looks to exploration as a quiet and introspective form of drifting. Where Ground Control uses memories of the past to construct the desire for a future in space, Voyager uses memories on a more personal and grounding manner. Floating and drifting through the landscape, time can seem to slow as space appears to expand. Time becomes more introspective as the explorer turns inward. A sense of longing surfaces and holds the explorer in orbit. It is this ebb and flow of past and present that brings out discoveries for the traveller.
Nine of Bill Finger’s photographs can be seen in Dream State, on display through February 16, 2018. The exhibition also features paintings by Matt Duquette (Buffalo, NY), sculpture by Carrianne Hendrickson (Rochester, NY), and paintings by Lin Price (Ithaca, NY). Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased online.