"Elemental Exposure: The Photography of Scott Farrell
Islip Art Museum - January 15th through May 20th, 2017
Elemental Exposure: The Photography of Scott Farrell
Curated and Reviewed By Eric Murphy
Scott Farrell is a Long Island artist and photographer who approaches his work from a unique perspective that transforms not only how the subject is perceived, but its meaning entirely. Elemental Exposure gets its name from the ignored or unnoticed subjects within Scott Farrell’s photography, which have been exposed to the elements and undergo transformation through degradation. Farrell captures these weather-beaten objects and abstracts them, allowing them to transform into something with a more symbolic meaning. Elemental Exposure also gets its name from the fact that all of the images included in the exhibition are photographs, which traditionally use negative exposures to create images in the developing process.
Four mini-series, taken from Farrell’s 2015 Revelations series, make up what is showcased in Elemental Exposure. The genesis of the Revelations series begins with Red Sky at Morn. In February 2015, Farrell searched for inspiration from a blizzard-stricken dry dock and decided to take a closer look at the subject matter of his photography. The sleepy scene of beached boats had become chaotic melees of violent and vivid color. The scuffs in the fiberglass hulls had lost their meaning of being imperfections in paint, smudged from use, and became explosions of color slashed into being, igniting the fuse for the background of red to pop out of the frame. Finding chaos in the mundane that cold February day, Farrell tapped into a world within a world that he would continue to expose.
The series titled Supernova takes an aluminum rowboat and shoots it out of the stratosphere. What is showcased here is dynamic and alluring, as light is captured and given substance against the backdrop of the blackness of space. This gives way to muted color and specks of light that look like stars. Rivets along the hull become celestial bodies swimming not in water, but swirling gasses and interstellar dust. Reflections of light dancing across the marred metal of the boat give trippy effects reminiscent of that seen in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The reflections of light along the hull also give this series a great number of variants as the subject is constantly changing and new details are highlighted and hidden.
Having originated this concept of studying landscapes, it seems fitting to have found landscapes within the micro-world Farrell has cultivated. Great Plains Genesis takes a water soaked retaining wall and transforms it into a barren plain amidst a pending storm. As waves lap into the concrete surface of the wall, new colors and shapes have exposed an ominous landscape devoid of trees and animal life. Each image give the feeling of static and vibration in the air, like the Great American plains – a thunderstorm could erupt at any moment.
The Antediluvian series accesses the ethereal by taking the viewer outside of space and time. Split laminate over glass gives the illusion of polar ice cracking under its own weight. The sky behind the glass illuminates the frame in bright blue while the UV film flakes off and creates a crunchy texture that resembles some kind of crust. Antediluvian itself means “time before the biblical flood” and fits in appropriately with the idea of water permeating through these images. Interestingly enough, this series bridges religious themes of floods and otherworldliness with scientific notions of geology and the study of single celled life forms.
Scott Farrell has exposed a whole micro-world within the real one. Looking to find the chaotic and the beautiful in the mundane and ordinary, Farrell has uncovered gloomy central planes, unknown reaches of space, violence in color, and a region of reality that escapes time itself. Art surrounds us; it’s the human imagination that draws it fourth. Next time you see that same old desolate fire hydrant, or that abandoned stone walkway, take a closer look. Expose your imagination and let it run wild. You can transform the world around you into something fantastic and meaningful in its own right.