At dnj Gallery’s typical espousal of the avant-garde in contemporary photography, Dylan Vitone strikes a chord at the seemingly anachronistic journalistic recording of human affairs. I say anachronistic because with the zeitgeist inundated with portable hand-held cameras powering stronger technology than space missions decades ago, there is a shift in the lens’s perspective. Cameras are now actively used to create solipsistic worlds where only the creator exists; rather than having the lens observe the world, our society chooses to have the lens observe itself.
Paradoxically, this is a truncation of the world. Where now the story is self-centered, bygones ago there was a connection to a setting. And the meditation of setting is what is so tantalizing with Mr. Vitone. He rhapsodically captures whole worlds of human life in each of his panoramas. Each of his lives are acting in their own stories, widening the bandwidth of perspective of the observer. In turn, such a “panorama” of sight reflexively piques with novelty; Sprinklers, for instance, captures a nostalgic return to a digitally decluttered life which is wonderfully stated through the use of childhood subjects as an instrument of conveying innocence to a photographed world which is saturated with life beyond any that can be possibly captured in a “selfie”. Indeed, Mr. Vitone’s copious use of children in his settings enforces this interpretation, and even further: that the world is meant to be wondered and explored outward, rather than contracted inwardly toward self-celebration as the average social media photo exalts. That such nostalgic photography can instill a burst of creativity is a stunning artistic testimony of the contemporary digital age we are immersed within.
By contrast, Ms. Melanie Walker is not seeking a recollection with her photography, but rather is an inventor of new photographic expression. As one fellow photographer eloquently admired at the opening, each of her works are images choreographed to imbue complex yet accessible “poetry”. Beetle Burn, for instance, has an incendiary connotation to the title complemented by a pre-ignited bonfire at the foreground of the assemblage. We can seamlessly intuit the premonition of a rampaging blaze that will be set off – and yet it can be interpreted as purely an emotional state, perhaps of solemn rage. The gentle yet ominous foretelling is quite a potential to so effortlessly represent. And this sensuality added to the photography, in a symbolic gesture, is the creation of new photographic expression. I would not be surprised to find Ms. Walker exploring physical space with her photography outside the photography, perhaps in some sculptural form, next.