Peter Sutherland: Fotographic Phictions

Exhibit Dates: 
Tuesday, Jun. 4 to Saturday, Jul. 6
Artist Reception: 
Friday, Jun. 7 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm
2nd Saturday Opening: 
Saturday, Jun. 8 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm



Finding the glitch enabled Sutherland to break the rule without aborting the routine. Following the aesthetic realism of ‘truth to process,’ he accepted the early camera’s low-res optics and focused instead on a more interesting issue: what would happen if you moved the camera during the panoramic sweep? Doing so revealed a creative wiggle-room between the app’s preprogrammed discipline and improvisation. Using camera movements to engage the otherwise impenetrable algorithm, he learned how to push the app beyond its limits. Moving the camera cinematically during the 8-step sweep, he managed to produce coherent, multi-perspectival panoramas.

Mimicking the behavior of the eye as it shifts from one detail of a scene to another, Sutherland uses the choreography of camera movements to make spatial narratives by ‘dancing with (his) Android’.  Rather than Cartier-Bresson’s ‘critical moment,’ his photography is about ‘critical movement.’  Fotographic Phictions catalogues the repertoire of dance-moves he developed, during a 5-year liaison with his Android, to make images which give form to sometimes musical and mystical concepts (see titles) -- titles whose narrative sequence contrasts playfully with the images’ everyday subjects.  In viewing, don’t look for high-res detail; it’s not that kind of camera. Instead, step back and read how space is sculpted by messing with perspective.  And notice how the deck-boards register the camera movements.

While recent versions have improved the Samsung optics, Sutherland laments the removal of the Android’s wiggle-room. His creative mis/use of the early panoramic app may free photography from Renaissance aesthetics.  But it also calls for a redesigned professional version, that gives greater control of the variables involved in panoramic image-making, plus superior optics. His next step is to find a software developer with whom to partner on the project.  He also wants to curate a show of global experimental smart-phone art.

Originally an abstract painter in his teens, British-born photographer Peter Sutherland heeded his father’s warnings about starving in a garret and went to Oxford instead of art school. He never touched a paintbrush again. But he didn’t abandon his visual roots. During his next two careers – as an architect in London (trained at the Architectural Association), then a Cultural Anthropologist (M.A., London: D.Phil., Oxford) – he used photography to document buildings and his ethnographic fieldwork on travelling gods (in India then the Black Atlantic). In 1987-88, he first worked as an architectural photographer in London, while making the switch from designing to his doctorate at Oxford, and simultaneously took a B.A. in Photography at the Polytechnic of Central London (under conceptual artist, Victor Burgin). From 1989 to 2016, he taught Cultural Anthropology and Global Studies at Louisiana State University, while intermittently practicing architectural photography – in 1990-92 shooting for architect Cesar Pelli among others in Los Angeles, while his wife Gail Hinich Sutherland taught at U.S.C as a Mellon Fellow.  Since retiring from university teaching and moving with his wife to Sacramento in 2017, he is finally starting his career as an artist -- establishing a visual practice in Architectural and Critical/Fine Art Photography.  Fotographic Phictions is his first exhibition.

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Viewpoint Photographic Art Center is the proud recipient of a SMAC Cultural Arts Award grant.

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