Jeff Prentice: Habitat

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Creation Year:




Artist Statement:

    Over the past several years, my work has spanned photography, video, installation, and new media. The creation process is a combination of practical steps, intuitive decisions, and experiments with technology, media, and platform. As a painter, I found the additive and subtractive process, the unintentional action, often resolved the image. Digital media lend themselves to this approach, through their malleability, modularity, variability, and automation. In digital media and installation, elements can be rearranged, stacked, erased, enlarged, suspended, and ordered. Invention, and an engagement in the rapidly changing dialogue between media and culture, are fundamental components of the work.

    Recently I have been working on the Habitat and Debris series, which present a database of people, their codes of dress, gesture, and artifacts. Collecting the material for Habitat involves shooting over 200 digital photographs per day in specific locations, usually for several weeks. My presence on the boardwalk, on the street corner, in the crowds takes on elements of a performance as I attempt to blend in, become invisible. Some people are unaware of the camera, others notice but ignore it, and still others are disturbed or curious about my intent.

    The work presents a large array in an ambiguous flatland that flows visually with a percussive rhythm, read like hieroglyphs or text. The digitized images are individually traced and cut out in Photoshop and composed into a site-specific digital collage, consisting of between 1,000 and 3,000 separate files. Working with such a huge database at times promotes a rough-edged, painterly aesthetic as editing speed increases. At other times, it slows down into a mechanical, painstakingly exact activity. The challenge is striking a balance between an efficient production strategy and formula, and a more exploratory process that allows for change and discovery.