Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

PERV: Jess Martin does an iPhone Cloud @ MARS Gallery

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The Mars Gallery with the Perv exhibition photo ‘cloud’


In 1936, the one-time Bauhaus teacher Làzlò Moholy-Nagy, described his idea of the ‘photographic series’, and he spoke of it as being ‘the logical culmination of photography’. In his discussion he states that the ‘picture loses its identity as such and becomes a detail of assembly, an essential structural element of the whole which is the thing itself.’


An exhibition, entitled Perv, by Toowoomba artist Jess Martin on show at MARS Gallery would no doubt excite Mohly-Nagy in that she has taken the idea of a photo sequence and turned it into a sculptural form to express her view of contemporary life and photography. Martin has for two years been collecting iPhone images of her life. Last year she exhibited at Futures Gallery in Toowoomba a mosaic of 2,000 of these images in three 1 square metre murals. The theme was her life as a photographer, curious about the visual nature of the world and the access to quick imaging via the mobile phone.

Perv takes the idea further by expanding it to encompass iPhone image submissions sent to her via Facebook social media from friends and their friends …. Deciding to take the concept off the gallery wall where it’s just glanced at by the viewer Martin has constructed a 3-Dimensional space to mirror the image overload of modern life. What’s more, is that the images are suspended the full length and breadth of the Mars space – some 5×10 metres creating a cloud of photo images.



The view from above


Who knows how many thousand images are here… who cares? Who measures our daily dose of images anyway? So while this exhibition is confrontational it is also indicative of the prevalence, pervasiveness and proliferation of vernacular photography today. Viewers encountering this sky-load of images will need to search far if they are looking for classic pictorial beauty, or even well crafted documentary images. These pics are rapid snaps — faces, places, events, Facebook trivia, the weird and wonderful, rude and humorous. In a few seconds you can find photos of cats and dogs doing amazing things, food being devoured, over-flashed close-up faces and obviously candid and personal moments between lovers, family and friends.



Looking at Perv’s pics


Billions of photographs are made and Perv‘s several thousand may be the equivalent of a grain of sand in all the beaches of the world however within this space we have an opportunity to connect with the contemporary reality of the photo today and the use of this once specialist human activity.

In coming back to Moholy-Nagy again there is something else to ponder that this exhibition celebrates and that is, in Nagy’s words; ‘its separate but inseparable parts a photographic series inspired by a definite purpose can become at once the most potent weapon and the tenderest lyric.’

The exhibition remains on show at Mars Gallery until December 6, 2013.


Words and photos: Doug Spowart

Moholy-Nagy, L. (1936). From Pigment to Light. Telehor. 1: 32-36.

Vicky, Jess and Doug

Jess is a past student from Doug’s SQIT Art Photography class. We have mentored her during this project however Jess’ creativity, innovation and hard work has transformed this exhibition into a significant outcome – Congratulations Jess!

It should also be acknowledged that this exhibition has been supported by the Queensland Government through an RADF Arts Queensland Grant.


Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.




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