Jonathan Quinn- Optic Intervention and Photography (September 2007)
Jonathan Quinn experimented with conceptual art while an undergraduate at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Creating works that investigated the image making process as sculpture. Such works included ad hoc camera obscuras. Made from abandoned optical equipment. These sculptures projected the found light from any room onto the backs of old photographs. He also explored the nature of visual assumptions with sculptural works that used floating strips of clear plastic to create an illusion of “writing on water”. Exploring contemporary assumptions about multimedia, Quinn distilled this as an issue of simultaneity by setting up a series of dueling, comparative images. Two images placed side-by-side inviting cross-analysis.
Still, Quinn found the argument for conventional pictorial art to be an open question. Mired in an aesthetic impasse, disengaged from both ideological and communicative motivations, Quinn determined to reinvent the picture as a self-defined cultural practice, by creating large, simple silhouette cut-outs of cliché-icons of modern transportation. The simple, silhouetted, black and white shapes function as both a metaphor for the transition of space and offer the simplest arrangement possible to create a recognizable, three dimensional object as a two dimensional illusion.
He became involved with numerous groups of artists in New York including showings at Club 57, ABC No Rio, Nature Morte and Group Material. He slowly abandoned the use of optics in a quest to reinvent two Dimensional image-making and settled into a style of painting that could encrypt the mechanics of the optical but the act of painting allowed him to re-imagine photography as a conduit to an image making practice that suited his desire to merge aesthetic and communicative motivations.
Quinn’s latest work neither confronts or denies the mediation of the optical process. Works such as BRUNO (2006) call attention to the subject matter while PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE (2005) self-consciously exploits the evocative potential of the lens. His approach to photography investigates the act of “picture taking” as an attempt to record place and event in its simplest terms and he makes no apologies as to where he points a camera. Still, there are emotional and psychological factors that expose something of both Quinn and the world he lives in and (to him) this is ultimately what matter. The conduit of camera and lens points inward.
-David Kass (based on a discussion with J. Quinn, September 2007)