Reiterations. Katie Waugh. September 2017
Frantic. Instability. Exploration. These are all terms to describe the work presented by Katie Waugh in her exhibit Reiterations in the Bret Llewellyn Gallery at Alfred State College. There was a uniqueness about the show in that the feeling of instability or franticness wasn’t completely artificial. Some of the images themselves gave that sense before the manipulations of Katie Waugh had been done.
Waugh works in a very unique style which seems to be dying due to digital photography. She works with the manipulations of film. She manipulates the film before it even leaves the camera. This adds such an interesting style to her work and just continues to add to the feelings of instability and shows exploration of the camera as well as nature itself. With being able to manipulate the film right on the spot and make these edits within seconds of the first photograph really displays how frantic and unsteady nature really is. Just by viewing something at a slightly different angle gives the image blurriness which makes us personally feel uncomfortable and unsteady. The piece the she utilized this in was of an image of a broken unusable pier. This pier appeared to be in a state that if you walked on it, you might get the feeling that the last image made you feel just by looking at it.
Another work that expressed franticness and instability was the floor installation. This was clouds on a canvas surrounded by wooden boxes. These boxes were unstable and needed shims to stabilize them. But, shims represent a quick fix. So even though they might appear to be stable now, they are still quite unstable as these quick “fixes” could fail at any time. Also, the images of clouds gives us the feeling of calmness or peacefulness, but the way they are displayed gives us the unsteady, unsure feeling.
Now to describe the process that Katie Waugh uses is a bit challenging. Why? She uses a large format film camera to create most of her work. Most people now use DSLR cameras and don’t even understand how film cameras work. I personally have taken a photography class in which we only used film and processed our own images in a dark room. With this experience I understand the time it takes to get the shot just right and the complexity of which the cameras operate. Even to develop the images might have been an even harder task then learning the way the camera operates. Waugh has a tremendous understanding of how these specific cameras work and what parts can be messed with and changed to give the very specific desired results. What Waugh did to create her installation of film strips mounted on the wall at different angles was to manipulate the camera itself. She would manipulate the plate that lets light in to give the film strips different angles instead of the standard squares/rectangles. This method takes a tremendous amount of patients and skill to master. You have to adjust the advancement precisely to get the right effect in each frame and if you mess one up, you start all over as everything is done directly to the film strip.
Below are a couple other images from the gallery.