New Walls

Ron Martin views the work of three photographers at HCP's new gallery.

During his initial work in photo­journalism, Jim Caldwell says that he likened his basic premise to that of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal, which states, in part, that as the scale of the area observed is reduced, our effects on it, and therefore our uncer­tainty about it, is increased; i.e., as we become more intimate, we become more unsure of what we know. Simi­larly, as the size of the group Jim photographed decreased, his influence, for better or worse, increased. At one-to-one, the effect was profound; so much so that he began to doubt the credibility of the portrait as it is com­monly regarded.

At the same time as he sought an alternative to the portrait process, he became increasingly aware of his debt to his models in other projects. A great model was a true collaborator and had ideas of his or her own to contribute. Hence, he began, over a year ago, to lend his studio to interested persons for self-portraits. The basic modus operandi has been to set a motor-driven camera on a tripod in front of a large, full-length mirror facing seamless back­drop paper. He then set lights on the participants according to their wishes, coached them on a few technical do's and don'ts, handed them the long cable release and left. The results have been surprising and the participants usual­ly thrilled.
Jim Tiebout's photographs deal with common objects that are usually seen in a different context. He has tried to give them new life by viewing them from a different perspective and mak­ing them surpass their normality. These objects lose their visual impact due to our constant exposure to them. He has tried to bring them to the foreground again by viewing them at different times and under different lighting con­ditions, thus allowing the form to trans­cend the mundane quality that we have attributed to them.
Claire Peeps, a California photog­rapher sees the human figure as appealing to universal sympathies with sexuality and self-affirmation.
She prefers not to dwell on the ob­vious in her images nor to illustrate stories. She chooses instead to situate the figures in sparse, distilled envi­ronments where they can be freed of spatial and literal context. While she acknowledges that there may be some latent eroticism in her pictures, she seeks to encase it with a broader frame­work of generalized sensuality rather than specified sexuality.
Just as she tries to impart a sense of physical distance, she tries to create an illusion of audible distance too. By the use of so much white and grey it is as if the figures are caught between si­lence and intermittent noises and be­tween stasis and movement.