ARTLURKER

A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

Culture Close-Up: Dogan Arslanoglu at 6th Street Container Gallery

C-Print from Investigations (2007 – 2011). 30 x 40 inches.

On Friday December 16th Miami was officially introduced to the work of emerging artist Dogan Arslanoglu when “Investigations”, a solo exhibition featuring a photographic series by the same name, opened at 6th Street Container Gallery in Little Havana. With 30” x 40” digital prints made by photographing a television monitor close-up with 6” x 7” color film over a four year period (2007 – 2011), Arslanoglu represents footage from American television broadcast archives.

C-Print from Investigations (2007 – 2011). 30 x 40 inches.

Stills rendered from various iconic clips including a 1940′s atomic bomb test over Bikini Atoll and the Max Headroom Broadcast Signal Intrusion of 1987 are paired with vintage commercials advertising Coca-Cola, cereal, dental hygiene and cosmetics. Cropped into abstraction, many images are difficult to identify without a hint. The eye instantly recognizes the classic Coca-Cola can, but the atomic blast, equally ingrained in the social conscious, reads more ambiguously despite being depicted more completely – a glowing muddy, yellow-orange hamburger illuminating a hierarchy of cultural association grossly out of whack. Similarly in the Max Headroom still, the eerie sheet of corrugated metal with which the notorious masked culprit anonymizes his surroundings becomes little more than an intense, composition in glorious RGB.

C-Print from Investigations (2007 – 2011). 30 x 40 inches.

Film is considered to be an important art form, a source of popular entertainment and a powerful method for educating – or indoctrinating – citizens.” – Wikipedia.

In “Investigations” we are shown that film as an artifact, a man-made evidential whole, can be questioned and ultimately dissected. Rendered with photography, pixels – elemental particles of red, green, and blue – are examined as building blocks, individual parts of larger configurations and in turn, cultural history. That which is familiar appears less obvious and that which is more obvious is somehow less familiar.

C-Print from Investigations (2007 – 2011). 30 x 40 inches.

Synopsized and revisited, what was once shot in a certain light from a certain angle, utilized, archived for posterity – which for a society of passive viewers oblivious to everything left outside of the frame and so fundamentally shackled by the media is evocative of Stockholm Syndrome – and presumed to be final is in fact open to interpretation. By photographing within pre-existing frames, Arslanoglu looks beyond the original point of view, directing nostalgia towards a synopsis that is all his own. In this way, emphasis is placed on the importance of a pro-active viewer who is able to open a dialogue between audience and television producer, and the notion that although it may be impossible to know what happened outside of the frame, there is always room for editing (and interpretation) within.

C-Print from Investigations (2007 – 2011). 30 x 40 inches.

In spite of their eclectic, often puzzling nature, all images in the series share these commonalities. They are a reminder of the heavy weight we put on a secondary reality made of virtual pixels, and Arslanoglu disenchants our identification with our own history and consumerist behavior through a secondary life of awful tints and graceless gestures. As no titles are provided it may be difficult for the casual spectator to identify exactly what events or commercials are depicted in the images, but an abiding sense that these new images are no doubt cynical and reflective of the absurd idea that American culture depends so greatly on vapid configurations of light that can only be made physically tangible when printed as a photograph prevails regardless[.]

This post was contributed by Violet Forest.

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Culture Close-Up: Dogan Arslanoglu at 6th Street Container Gallery