A video summarizing my research on UFO photography will be shown at this year’s International Conference on the Image in Hong Kong, SAR.
509 E. Franklin Street
Friday October 6, 2017
In the infinite expanse of photographs there are those that wander in a state of somnambulism, speaking in tongues and mutating as they move ever further away from their points of origin. In order to awaken these images from their babbling slumber they must be rendered as contemplative objects.
This body of work is comprised of photographs from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Stolen Art File. The images have varying degrees of obfuscation and legibility due to a combination of poor documentation, technical errors, and digital compression. A distorted photograph in the National Stolen Art File is often the only publicly available visual documentation for a listed artwork, existing in a strange space between cultural artifact and abstract data.
The digital image files taken from the database have been printed at the approximate size of the original works to act as pixilated placeholders for the missing works and give form to the digital mediation, circulation, and consumption of art. In these altered states the images embody the contradictions of representation and abstraction, presence and absence.
UNKNOWN SUBSTANCES BY EVAN HUME
MARCH 21, 2015 - APRIL 21, 2015
FURTHERMORE is pleased to debut Unknown Substances—an exhibition of images by recent DC-expat Evan Hume. The artist’s recent work reproduces and enlarges documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests to various government agencies such as the FBI, Air Force and the National Archives. Though the finished works are digital prints, his true medium is the generation loss that occurs as these documents have been photocopied from other photocopies, scanned, printed, reduced, enlarged, sharpened, emailed, and printed again.
As each successive transaction degenerates these documents’ DNA, it also transforms its information into a fossilized visual vocabulary. Though most of the original content may have been redacted or utterly unknowable, a stark, black-and-white crust has been introduced that reveals the history of this chain of command. Perhaps reproduced works can radiate Walter Benjamin’s aura.
Was it coincidence that classified documents proliferated in parallel with the visual tropes of Abstract Expressionism in post-war America? Clyfford Still, Franz Kline, and Robert Motherwell redacted and obscured matrices of canvas, echoing the paranoia that malevolent forces were at work: bureaucratic, extraterrestrial and possibly supernatural. Denials in paint and toner, revived and amplified in the post-9/11 era, as federal agencies play their cards closer, while Wikileaks, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden react equally and oppositely.
While Hume’s work embodies this anxiety, it also suggests that for whatever information lost, these documents also gain a life of their own—a step away from conspiracy. The fact that this visual information can be seen through the lens of concealment, redaction, and now declassification allows us to comb these images for alternate meanings and infatuations.
In conjunction with the exhibition, FURTHERMORE & HUME will release Aesthetics of Bureaucracy, a 40-page zine including additional visual ephemera and outtakes (edition of 150).
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Evan Hume was born in Upstate New York and grew up in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. He studied photography at Virginia Commonwealth University and earned his MFA from George Washington University in 2011. Recent exhibitions include OPTIONS at Arlington Arts Center, Body of Work at Studio 1469, and Ghosted at Delicious Spectacle. He currently lives in Richmond, VA and is a lecturer at George Washington University and College of Southern Maryland.