Marten Elder is a photographer who studied under Stephen Shore at Bard College in New York. His Perceptual Renderings exhibition is part of the second Capture Photography Festival in Vancouver. Elder’s work reminded me of Erin O’Keefe’s images with their bright, vibrant colour palettes. It was great to see the actual photographs in the flesh, as they were quite big and the colours are definitely more vibrant on paper than on a computer screen.
I found the Festival’s brochure write up on Elder’s method of working a little vague so I went in search of some extra information. In an excerpt of an interview with Emma Lee Wall, reported by Jill Singer of SightUnseen, Elder describes his method of working as follows:
Instead of treating the photograph as a window into the world and attempting to extend pictorial illusion, I started making compositions that were intentionally flat. It was the same basic logic used to look at the world, but for reverse effect. Then I started to allow myself to break other rules, which led to the focus composites and the wide spectrum of colors rendered. … The color is all color as it exists in the real world, in the same relative relationship to one another, but mapped to the entire spectrum of what the digital camera captures and what the print can reproduce.
Elder concentrates on rendering the actual colours of shadows and likes working with concrete subjects as concrete with its natural grey colour reflects all other colours very well. He also uses plants for some of his images, but personally I found those images a little over the top and a bit unbelievable. The organic subject matter definitely did not render as well as the inorganic matter. I found his images of kerb stones, stairwells, corners and gravel on roads particularly interesting as abstract works.
Elder’s images are extremely well composed, have a high graphic element and very interesting colour palettes. His work is a constant experiment into the workings of colour. I’m still not sure whether the photographs are composites. It would be nice to have a better understanding of his process as I do find the images very intriguing.
More of his work can be seen on his website, listed in the Bibliography below and the exhibit can also be viewed online at Equinox Gallery’s website.
Singer, Jill (2014). Marten Elder in 01 Magazine [online]. SightUnseen. Available from: http://www.sightunseen.com/2014/11/marten-elder-in-01-magazine/ [Accessed 4 April, 2015]
Martin Elder [online]. Available from: http://martenelder.com/ [Accessed 4 April, 2015]
Elder, Martin (2015) Perceptual Renderings [online]. Equinox Gallery. Available from: http://equinoxgallery.com/artists/portfolio/marten-elder/1 [Accessed 7 April, 2015]