Who hasn’t seen Rubin’s Vase: Is it a vase, or is it a silhouette of two people nose to nose? Nox Borealis’ and ‘Still Water’ series at the Thames Art Gallery in Chatham, Ontario this month.
Wright takes snow and water scenes, turns them upside down, and inverts them on the walls and floors to provide the inverse of the object being observed. What are we actually looking at? What is it that photography actually does? Is this photography?
What Wright does is certainly not traditional photography, as we know it. But if photography, or what appears to be photography, makes us consider our own viewpoint of the world, then it’s worth disturbing the perspective.
Wright’s ‘Nox Borealis’ takes an ordinary Arctic snow bank, turns it upside down, peels the edges off the wall, and asks the viewer, ‘What do you see? A snow hill, or a night sky? A snow bank, or outer space? How are these two sides of the World, in black and white, the pair of the other? How are they related by form when inverted? What is it about the image, the shape, that allows the viewer to see the other side of the phenomena?
Similarly, Wright’s sculptural photographs, ‘Still Water’, are the three-dimensional concave of what we might see in the landscape. Here, Wright distorts a photograph of a waterfall, only in the reverse direction and shape from its ordinary, organic perspective. Is it a fountain now? Is the other side of the water falling? What are we looking at now, and again, how is the image the ying and yang of the other? Why are they connected in this way simply by turning the negative upside down?
Look for yourself: how inverted is your perception of your own world in water?