Sampler samples. The Harvard Advocate has assembled student photography from not only Harvard but also from New York's Cooper Union and the Parson School of Design. Intending to foster dialogue between Harvard artists and the New York artists, the show aims to bridge an aesthetic gap through the use of color and new printing techniques such as c-printing, silkscreen printing and digital image processing. Thus, not only are the photographs in Sampler original in terms of their subject matter and color schemes, but they also incorporate cutting-edge printing techniques. Color and technique flow together in nearly every photograph, leaving an ambiance of the old world departing, accepting its place as it melts quietly into the new, bright, technocratic 21st century.
One of the swankiest examples of a symbiosis between art and new technology is Harvard senior Becca Lowenhaupt's series of skyscraper lobbies. Included in each photo is a bouquet of flowers or a potted plant, always looking completely out of place. In one photograph of an elevator bank, a flower arrangement seems frozen by its stark corporate surroundings. These sterile contexts do not detract from the beauty of the flowers but instead contrast that beauty, making it suddenly strange. Each lobby also features an office functionary, frozen in the photographic frame, standing in stark Hopper-like profile. Baring her camera in the sterility of corporate urbanity, Lowenhaupt has thoughtfully commented on the possibility of unintentional beauty.
Another pleasing intersection of technology and art is Cooper Union student Clay Zimmerman's photograph of a large home sitting behind a highway. The house is illuminated, orange and bright, while the highway is dark, a thought-provoking color contrast reminiscent of Rene Magritte's eerie painting, "The Empire of the Light." For Zimmerman, technology is not only a tool, but also a subject: the house is nearly dwarfed by two satellite dishes, creating a juxtaposition of homey architecture and lonely telecommunications, all dramatically illuminated with highway and house lights.
Continuing with the theme of bold illumination is Harvard senior Hitomi Nakao's photograph of a naked woman seemingly bathed in the swirling light of a projector. This photograph, although darkly colored and almost confusing, radiates warmth and sensuality. Indeed, this nude is much more striking than Nakao's other nude photo series, in which a woman is photographed close-up from several different angles. The woman bathed in projected light is more a statement than an exploration, asserting the compatibility of the body and technology.
Sampler includes the work of many photographers, far more than mentioned here, and the character of the exhibit, like the aesthetic discourse implicit within it, only comes together after sustained viewing. The Advocate has put together a unique show, a kind of East meets West in the New England sense; deep and wide, loud and blue--it's not to be missed. There's groovy music too.
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