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Jessica Tauberts Essay

Show #6814 - Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jeopardy! Round

The instrument heard here is the penny type of this
It started with a sex scandal:
"The ____ Wife"
Medallion,
Medellin,
median
The 100,000-acre Roscoe farm spreading over 4 Texas counties produces electricity from this source
Beginning with Henry VII, this family ruled England from 1485 to 1603
In the 15th century it was played in England under the name shovel-penny; we know it as a deck game on a cruise ship
It's a weather forecast & a TV show:
"It's Always ____ in Philadelphia"
Permutation,
pernegation,
perpetration
Toss your food scraps & other organic material into a bin to make this, which you can then use as fertilizer
Every year from 1947 to 2011, a member of this family served in Congress; in 2013 the family began a new streak
We love Dirk Taubert, M.D. & the other researchers who've reported in medical journals on the benefits of this sweet
Pennyroyal is an aromatic plant of this sweet herb family; its leaves can be dried to make tea
Late-night talk:
"Jimmy Kimmel ____"
The Newhouse publishing family started with the Bayonne Times & now owns this "Glamour" -ous magazine concern
If you were one of these stupid chicken sounds, you wouldn't be here
Named for the 2 British coins it resembled, this early bicycle had a large front wheel & a small rear wheel
Set in an apocalyptic world:
"The ____ Dead"
Recidivist,
reciprocal,
recision
If your garden soil lacks magnesium, a green way to add it is to use magnesium sulfate, aka this salt named for a British town
Holy Roman Empire! This ruling family sat in the emperor's chair almost uninterrupted from 1438 to 1806
Italian for "from the head", it means to repeat a piece of music from the beginning
A profile of Queen Victoria is on the world's first-ever adhesive postage stamp, known as this
Multiracial '80s comedy:
"____ Strokes"
Triptote,
asymptote,
diptote
More efficient than filament bulbs, this light source gets its name from its twin terminal structure
Original surname of the first & third prime ministers of India
Once upon a time, theatergoers in this arcing row of seats were expected to wear formal clothes

Scores at the first commercial break (after clue 15):

SandieBruceJessica
$1,600$1,000$2,600

Scores at the end of the Jeopardy! Round:

SandieBruceJessica
$3,600$2,600$5,600

Double Jeopardy! Round

She clerked for Thurgood Marshall
In the mid-20th century, this noisy word got the new meaning of a street fight between gangs
In 1905 this Dubliner & his future wife Nora moved to Trieste, where he taught English
It's the job of the fictional Athos
United Fruit, now this banana company, once owned half the private land in Honduras
Captain Teague, Jack Sparrow's dad, in 2 "Pirates of the Caribbean" films
An abactor is defined as one who steals cattle; in the Old West he was called this
Born in Lebanon, Khalil Gibran titled books in English "The Madman", "The Forerunner" & this foreteller
As suggested by his work seen here, photographer Jimmy Chin is also a noted one of these
Rain forest is a big feature of this country's Darien National Park, the largest nature reserve in Central America
Cinna in the "Hunger Games" movies
This man, who helped found the ACLU in 1920, must have said, "Hot dog!" after taking the bench 19 years later
Campanology is the art of casting & ringing these
In 1865 this French author wrote about a space flight launched from Florida that later splashes down in the Pacific
Profession of Brooklyn Bridge designer John Roebling
Volcan Tajumulco, Central America's highest peak at 13,845 feet, lies in this country near the Mexican border
Christopher Tracy in 1986's "Under the Cherry Moon"
(Sandra Day O'Connor delivers the clue.) In an old tradition, before entering the courtroom every justice shakes hands with every other justice; I learned to be careful with the crushing grip of this onetime Heisman Trophy runner-up
As a verb, it means to cover a hatch; as a noun, it's the timber used to hold the cover in place
This Romanian-born French playwright also wrote for children, the series "Stories 1, 2, 3, 4" that he himself called "silly"
On pre-Civil War plantations, his job was to make sure the slaves were doing all the work they could
The San Juan river flows out of this "national" lake & provides part of the border with Costa Rica
The title guy in 1976's "The Man Who Fell to Earth"
In 1948, a Massachusetts university was named for this man, who wrote the essay "Other People's Money and How the Bankers Use It"
This adjective meaning "relating to population statistics" became a noun that can follow "'target"
Born Helen Lyndon Goff in Australia, she wrote 1934's "Mary Poppins" & several sequels
In ancient Rome, Crescens raced to glory as one of these; his favorite horse was named Delicatus
The name of this planned city comes from the word "Belize" & the name of a Mayan tribe
The Acid Queen in 1975's "Tommy"

Scores at the end of the Double Jeopardy! Round:

SandieBruceJessica
$14,000$8,100$11,200

[wagering suggestions for these scores]

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JTF (just the facts): A total of 10 black and white and color photographs, framed in white and unmatted, and hung against white walls in the single room gallery space. 8 of the works are color carbon prints, while the other 2 are gelatin silver prints; all of the works were made in 2014/2015. Each print is sized 21×25 and is available in an edition of 3. (Installation shots below.)

Comments/Context: Very few contemporary photographers understand color as well as Jessica Eaton does. In her world, the colors we encounter every day aren’t a given – in fact, they are something we can assume very little about. Her artistic output is grounded in an intense interest in the science of color, starting with the RGB rods and cones that process color in our eyes, moving to the ways cameras, films, and papers have been constructed and tuned to mimic that human color processing system, and finally coming to the ways printed inks are blended to created colors that attempt to recreate/match what’s been captured. She’s spent much of her short but fruitful artistic career deconstructing color, analytically ripping it apart and then building it back up again with rigorous, meticulous attention to the science of every step in the chain. While her results might look bright and bouncy, don’t be fooled; her photographs are about as technically and cerebrally complex as anything being done in the entire field of contemporary photography right now.

Eaton’s newest works are a stark move away from the crisp Albers-like geometries of cubes and blocks she has become known for, and if we didn’t know better, we might be tempted to try to understand her recent overstuffed still life floral bouquets in the context of the history of that subject matter, as some kind of modern Dutch homage. Instead, her bursting explosions of flowers, set against an equally dense Victorian floral wallpaper, are really just a smart vehicle for her ongoing investigations of color. As her exuberant set-up covers nearly every hue and tint in the rainbow, she’s just using something representational as her baseline instead of something abstract.

Given that Eaton’s new works are luscious carbon prints (a now nearly extinct photographic process, often associated with the glamorous saturated colors of Paul Outerbidge), another mistaken assumption we might make is that Eaton is somehow now interested in antique photographic processes for their retro anti-digital nostalgia. And yet, Eaton’s foray into the carbon process actually comes back to her thirst for exploiting arcane color technicalities – as a process, it is very flexibly (if difficultly) controlled and engineered, particularly in its wider tonal range and its suspension of individually exposed pigments in the emulsion that are later combined. Even with all its hardships, it offers unmatched color possibilities.

While all this might seem like far more than we really need to know, it’s actually just the beginning of the lightning bolt of inspiration for Eaton. Starting with a very colorful subject (the flowers), she then takes an exacting array of images of that composition, each time adjusting the light the camera sees with different colored filters, effectively creating individual color separations that can be combined using, you guessed it, the now rediscovered carbon process. Where it gets even weirder is now imagine taking the “red” separation and outputting it not with red pigment but with blue; every red flower, every pink leaf, indeed everything with even a smidgen of red is now a substituted shade of blue. What emerges is photography as a complicated mathematical equation, where each end result photograph is generated by modifying a set of logical variables.

With this knowledge in our back pocket, the brilliance in this small show of 10 pictures starts to become more evident. Eaton sets the stage with 4 images: a “standard” gelatin silver print (where the colors are output as normal in black and white), “a “standard” color print (where the colors are output as normal in color carbon), an “unregistered” color print (where the colors are output as normal but effectively offset just a hair so that they seem fuzzily and disconcertingly misaligned), and a “standard” infrared print (where the infrared separation is included). These images are like the control group in a scientific study – they show us what happens when we follow the rules and take the placebo.

The other six pictures on view are Eaton’s iterative improvisational permutations, each moment of perception an unruly gathering of choices. What happens when she combines an IR separation output in red, a red separation in green, and a green separation in blue? The flowers become a sea of acidic yellow and orangey brown (reminiscent of Kodak Aerochrome). When she inverts the two red and blue separations, the original purple alliums turn yellow and blue spears turn orange. As she lets changes percolate through the formula (throwing in even move variables like ultraviolet separations and dodged/burned versions of the standard colors), the flowers alternately turn a psychedelic shimmery pastel peach, a soft shade of brown as though they were dead and dried, and even more puzzling and unnatural combinations of purple and green.

The point here is not only the surreal (and often oddly beautiful) nature of these images, but also the deliberate and thoughtful hijacking of our own visual system that is going on – Eaton is proving that camera vision and human vision aren’t at all the same (however much they have been engineered to be similar), and that things can go wildly off the rails with even just a little clever (if unexpected) technical intervention.

What’s most exciting about Eaton’s work is her quietly confrontational stance – she’s actively and aggressively challenging photography, rather than agreeing to take it at face value. For her, a camera is not just a tool to be casually used, but a whole technological world that can and should be dissected, unpacked, and unraveled as the basis for further visual experiments and adventures. In a sense, she’s systematically hacking the code of color photography, and doing so with an artistic mindset. These new images are photography about photography at its richest and most robust, full of contagious intelligence and inquisitive persistence.

Collector’s POV: The prints in this show are priced as follows. The color carbon prints are $15000 each, while the gelatin silver prints are $8000 each. Eaton’s work has little consistent secondary market history, so gallery retail likely remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.