Untitled; Glass Portrait 1; Mixed Media; Glass, Wood, Digital Pigment Print; 23" x 18" x 9.5"
Untitled; Glass Portrait 2; Mixed Media; Glass, Wood, Digital Pigment Print; 23" x 18" x 9.5"
It takes three-hundred rolls of film for nearly 11,000 images.
As a photographer, I traveled the world with the capacity for nearly 11,000 images, which filled most of my suitcase. Today, my smartphone holds ten times that capacity and fits in my pocket.
During my career as a documentary and advertising photographer, I have observed and partaken in the transition from analog to digital photography. While images continue to take up an ever-growing amount of virtual space on our computers, we are rarely without a device that provides us with a steady stream of visual content. With an apparently endless supply of imagery, photography seems to be a perfect medium for this digital life. Conversely, I reflect on whether this medium–which one rarely considers for its physical attributes- has lost a valuable quality? I now look for ways to engage a viewer with an image both spatially and physically. One of my challenges exists within the fundamental nature of a photograph. Photographs lead the viewer into the illusion of the subject without bringing awareness to its materials. There is no requirement to consider his/her relationship to–nor be in the presence of–the actual photograph.
I aim to present a work that draws attention to the physical and spatial qualities of the piece, while simultaneously allowing the viewer to address the subject within the photograph. Through the merger of two mediums that share a long history–photography and glass–I have fashioned an encounter with the photograph that becomes realized when experienced in person. The unexpected framing of the image being upside-down allows for a moment of consideration towards the physicality of the photograph–something is not as it should be. Closer examination reveals the anticipated orientation of the image within the glass orb connecting the visual and the physical while opening the dialog to how this phenomenon resembles human vision and perception.
In my search for a fitting subject matter, I began to understand the role that the portraits could assume in this project. These portraits are of non-individuals or rather, are created through a merging of several individuals that share common traits. Utilizing this series of portraits–which challenged me to think of how we perceive ourselves as individuals versus being part of a broader community–in conjunction with the examination of perception, felt significant to me.
Please note that I did not create these images with a smartphone. I do, however, use a digital camera which has allowed more room in my suitcase for extra clothes.
These two pieces are the beginning of a more extensive series titled Glass Portraits.
About the Artist
Having been nearly robbed by monkeys on a mountain in the Sichuan province of China; documented the claimed location of the Ark of the Covenant in Aksum Ethiopia; photographed the rituals of Semana Santa in Antigua, Guatemala; Ryann Cooley has many stories to share. He says that his travels as a documentary photographer to over 50 countries have helped to shape his ideas. Additionally, his years of advertising and editorial work in New York City–with clients including American Express, Intel, InStyle, and Vibe magazine–has refined his skills. In his current practice, Ryann classifies himself as a conceptual artist that works in a blend of mediums challenging the boundaries of photography. His work–which includes immersive installations, mixed-media, and sculpture–exists on the fringe of photography and examines the relationship between a viewer and the image.