Lorna Bieber Images: Found and Lost
Lorna Bieber: Images: Found and Lost
Photographs are forever engaged in the cyclical process of being lost and found. They are placeholders, indexical by their compositional referents as well as their keepers – their meaning continually altered by their context and viewers.
Artist Lorna Bieber seeks to find such “lost” photographs, those sandwiched amidst others in guidebooks, newspapers, brochures, training manuals, and textbooks. More illustrative than artistic in intent, the stock images she chooses depict cooler, coniferous biomes. In this series, images feature birds, trees, flowers, rocks, and other referents – environments resembling those visited and inhabited by Bieber. Whether or not we have experienced these places first-hand or in other mediated ways, the images she selects and manipulates are nostalgic journeys in time and space to environments that feel like we have been to before.
After finding an image, the Bieber intuitively engages abstraction to release its new meaning. In no particular order, she selects an area of each image to focus on, crops, enlarges, sketches or paints on it, re-photographs it, scans, or photocopies it. Each image is further photographed on film, printed on gelatin silver paper, and mounted. The process of reproduction elicits an alternate reality that is both “real” and manipulated.
The assemblage of images in the large-scale montages has cinematic storytelling qualities. We are called to engage in the cerebral exercise of recognizing similar pictures from the grid and then linking them together to form narratives. The series recollects English photographer Edweard Muybridge’s 1878 groundbreaking locomotion project, in which a series of stereoscopic images placed into a circular hand-crank viewing machine animated a galloping horse. Bieber’s kaleidoscopic montages are post-modern incarnations of early cinematic photographs like Muybridge’s; without the aid of optical magic lanterns to define a beginning, an end, and the connections between, we create our own fractured narratives in isolation.
Trained as a painter, Bieber studied at Boston University, Goddard College in Vermont, and Kent State University. She began working with appropriation and alternative photographic processes in 1988 from her studio on Broadway in New York, where she continues to create. Her work is in numerous public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Fogg Art Museum.
- Madeline Yale