thebodyasconduit [Traci Matlock‘s Tumblr] – Ruby Slipper (2015)

As much as I carry on about composition as a facet of qualitatively ‘good’ photography and image making, truth told: I always favor work which presents the singular immediacy of The Moment.

For example: this depiction of a threesome is indelibly imprinted on my psyche. Is it a qualitatively good image? I’d argue it’s no more and no less important than a broad swatch of Nan Goldin’s photos. The difference is the former is fixated on the immediacy of documenting a moment, whereas Goldin is more interested in photography as an act of memorializing.

Admittedly, both are two shadows cast by the same motivation; but, in Goldin’s case there’s an implicit questioning of how perception works. Given that it’s a hop skip and a jump to an assumption that the work must function as some sort of implicit eye training–exists at least in some part as a means of instruction in or illumination of How We See ™.

And to bring it back to the actual image I’m posting: Traci has been posting a lot of work she made last month with Ruby Slipper. Really, their recent collaboration is just the cat’s fucking meow–you really should check it out.

In looking at this work, I am starting to notice the ways Matlock has matured as a photographer. As long as I’ve known of her work, she’s been better than just about anyone at tapping into the objectless transcendence of The Moment. Her compositions have similarly always been on point. Yet, what is emerging in her work is a sort of hybrid between Stephen Shore’s ability to compose a perfectly balanced frame that appears as if he snapped it off hand as a casual afterthought; or, Garry Winogrand‘s seeming accidental–but in truth, anything but–perspectives.

The work also has something to say about the role color should play in photography. I think I’ve always seen Matlock as a follower of Eggleston; this making it even more clear–afterall, Eggleston pretty much single-handedly legitimated the Art value of color.

But seeing that it makes me question such an assumption. There’s really something here interrogating the boundaries between pigment on canvas and painting with light itself. The above image reminds me of a painting–which, of course, since I’m hung over as the queen in Maida Vale, I can’t recall the painter but it’s like van Gogh and Klimt collaborated.

I’ve put this all badly but my point is simply this: good work shows you something new; great work shows you something you’ve already seen in a new and different light.

Given that metric: Matlock’s work is probably whatever comes after good merges with great.

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