For several years I have been working on a series titled “Color Corrections.” This evolving series of works on paper and paintings was developed using digital color-correction software and a scene from my latest documentary film “The Peasant and the Priest.” I have taken a single still frame from the film, and by adjusting vectors in the color-correction software I am able to create an infinite array of unique images. The original footage is of a priest on a Florence street at night ministering to a woman who has been trafficked to Italy to work as a sex slave.
Some 27 million people worldwide are held in some form of slavery, forced prostitution or bonded labor. Nearly a million people are forcibly trafficked across international borders annually and held in captivity. “ The Peasant and the Priest“ documentary shows us a tragedy playing itself out in Italy and by implication elsewhere: the last remnants of ancient social and economic structures which are giving way to the forces of global economics, tourism and migration.
My intention is not to illustrate this complex social-political phenomenon in a painting but to imbue an abstract image with a source that has significance. My film provides an infinite number of compositional possibilities; a vast library of stills that are imbued with meaning beyond a rearrangement of formal elements. I transform the film frame so that the figures and narrative are no longer visible: the imagery becomes geometric abstraction. I work on paper and panels with a variety of media including digital printmaking, hand-ground water-based pigments and oil paint bringing together the worlds of digital and traditional media.
The relationship between painting and photography, including the role of painting as a form of contemporary cultural expression is fundamental to my work. By physically transforming the images, I challenge the widespread belief that photography records a more faithful representation of the world than painting. There is an assumption that film is representational, and that by seeing a film, we know about the world. Despite this perception, film, like painting, is a process of extreme selections, manipulations and abstraction.
Scale is intrinsic in the series: it is based on a single 480p still image of two protagonists in the film, reduced to a snapshot of a moment. That image is then compressed further into a series of lines, isolating just a few vectors, and then digitally printed, silkscreened or painted directly onto a panel. The image is thus cut off from the digital world in which it originated.
By turning my film back into abstraction, and by using photographic methods to reproduce and distort it, I highlight the ways in which film and photography manipulate our sense of the “real world,” rather than faithfully reproduce it. Abstraction gives voice to issues that defy easy narration.
My work is diverse and has developed into multiple series, giving me the freedom to explore by moving between genres. In the Pool and Swimmer series, groups of people are seen from above, contained in the geometry of swimming pools. Abstract configurations of individuals in crowds are a familiar facet of modern life, and we recall these patterns from our own observations of public space. I digitally collage and paint many such images to create new spatial configurations, exploring the space between representation and abstraction without the limitations of a signature style.