Gallery of Fine Art Photography - Atlanta GA

dialogue

Outside Time – Documents Lawson’s Photographic Achievements

Stephen Lawson describes his artist book, Outside Time, as his “mongrel brain-child.” This description belies the complexity and depth of his lifetime of work in photography, but is surprisingly apt at describing his unconventional career. In the early 1970s, the Scottish-born Lawson studied conceptual sculpture and earth art, which led to his epic exploration of time using photography in his adopted home, Morgantown, West Virginia.READ ENTIRE ARTICLE

Stephen Lawson
Lawson, himself is an interesting contradiction, a photographer in his 70s who never used a traditional darkroom, but built cameras from the screws up to create his own brand of time-lapse pictures. This Scotsman is not interested in f-stops and shutter speeds, but his photographs, some of which take a calendar year to expose, must be calibrated down to the smallest increment of time in order to succeed.
Lawson has spent much of the last three years creating Outside Time so future artists and scientists will be able to understand his mechanical process. Though artists using digital technology can approximate his methods, his one-of-a-kind cameras render his pictures different from other images, both in theory and in practical execution.
“The photo-based works grow from my background as a sculptor. These are four dimensional in concept and execution, but only two in the presentation. The concept of space and time is reconstructed in the mind of the viewer,” Lawson wrote. “The year and day-long works could be thought of as bringing a concentrated gaze; the brief, dynamic shots read as a glance, in the turn of the head, as the eye itself sees, before the mind edits this to a visual memory, often as a “still.” Indeed, all of the images could be thought of as movies presented as stills.”
Though Lawson has used a variety of techniques, he is perhaps best known for his collage like images that combine narrow strips of photographic prints, each strip depicting a place at a specific time, and taken in equally specific increments, such as every 10 minutes or once an hour on the hour. When Lawson assembles these strips into one whole picture, the viewer can see the landscape over a year or a day or whatever unit of time Lawson employed for that particular photograph.
“The unique cameras required to produce these time based works have been constructed by me and evolved over the years, one capability leading to the next. The first “rig” was put together in 1980. These have been very labor intensive, built with simple hand tools, hard work and patience, the conceptual skills as with the manual ones deriving from a background in sculpture,” he wrote. “The work is presented in a poetic mode that asks one to stand briefly outside the usual flow of time, hopefully causing us to reflect on our “time-in-the-world,” individually, culturally, and even as a species.”
Outside Time is more than an artist’s monograph, it is a metaphor for his career: hand-made, hard-won and unique. Many distinguished institutions, including The Chicago Art Institute and the Princeton University libraries, have acquired the handmade version of Outside Time, in recent days. Lawson is looking for a publisher to issue a commercial version of the book.
Like his cameras, some versions of Outside Time were made by Lawson with a stainless steel cover and back that contain nearly 200 pages of text and pictures describing his artistic roots, development, tools and ideas. The book is a house for his legacy, much as his cameras provide a sturdy home for the film he must protect during long exposures.
Lawson writes that the book came together in a piecemeal fashion much like the trajectory of his career – winding from sculpture to earth works to photography. “Youth is not the best vantage in writing an autobiography. So now I have a better stance to make a panoramic picture of my own landscape,” he wrote.
Lawson first began to think of writing a book, as he was preparing for a 2011 exhibition at Lumière, because his cameras were on display along with his photographs for the first time.
Though technical details are crucial to Lawson’s work, more so than most photographers, all of his mechanical creations are in the service of an almost literary interpretation of time. Lawson proves himself a poet when he writes:“Time can be tedious, time can be fleeting. Time is elastic to our emotions, in response to our awareness. Like the air we breathe, we live within it, unnoticed until a sensation draws out attention to it. Now at a certain age, I wonder where so much of it went; it is no longer here. Mostly, I swam in it, luxuriating in the buoyancy, assuming it an ocean, an endless resource, if thought of at all.”
Despite such modesty, Lawson most certainly thought of the hours and the moments and what they mean – Outside Time is the proof.
More of Lawson’s work can be seen on his Lumière Artist Page.

Posted in: a Deeper Look

Twitter

follow Lumiere Gallery

Facebook

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
3 days ago
Lumiere

Celebrating the work of Alexander Rodchenko born on this day in 1891. Rodchenko was a Russian artist, sculptor, photographer and graphic designer. He was one of the founders of constructivism and Russian design. Rodchenko was one of the most versatile Constructivist and Productivist artists to emerge after the Russian Revolution. He worked as a painter and graphic designer before turning to photomontage and photography. His photography was socially engaged, formally innovative, and opposed to a painterly aesthetic. Concerned with the need for analytical-documentary photo series, he often shot his subjects from odd angles—usually high above or below—to shock the viewer and to postpone recognition. He wrote: “One has to take several different shots of a subject, from different points of view and in different situations, as if one examined it in the round rather than looked through the same key-hole a#lumieregallery&#AlexanderRodchenkol#rodchenkon#sovietphotographyhenko
#sovietphotography
... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago
Lumiere

Celebrating the work of Robert Glenn Ketchum on his 75th birthday. Ketchum's imagery and books have helped to define contemporary color photography while at the same time addressing critical national environmental issues. This has made him one of the most successful artist/activists in American history. His work in Alaska illustrate this point, first in the Tongass Rain Forest, where his images were credited with helping to pass the Tongass Timber Reform Bill of 1990. One of his current efforts is in Southwest Alaska, aimed to protect the largest wild salmon habitats from the ill-advised Pebble Mine. Wishing you many more years to continue your work!!

#lumieregallery
#robertglennketchum
#nopebblemine
#rbtglennketchum
... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago
Lumiere

Sharing some beautiful Georgia landscapes by Diane Kirkland on this pretty fall day. #lumieregallery #dianekirkland ... See MoreSee Less

Load more