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2020 SPE Annual Conference: Hosted by The University of Houston | Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts | School of Art

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The Shape of Things

The Shape of Things
By
Joseph O'Neill

As photographers, we are taught that for a photograph to have an impact upon the viewer, it must tell a story: that a photograph is worth a thousand words. I do not believe this statement to be true. Abstract photography is not about telling a story. It is about a feel, a look. The most important aspect of viewing abstract photography is aesthetic, encouraging the viewer to experience a visceral rather than emotional feeling. I want to allow the viewer to decide what the story is, not to impose a narrative upon them. I want to tear down the stereotype of what a photograph should be, to open up the art form, moving it into another strata. I want photography to be recognized as a legitimate form of visual art.

As the first generation of digital photographers, we are setting the precedent for the photographers that come after us. We have the opportunity to expand the definition of photography's language, using new digital technology and editing software. These tools give photographic artists a new way to redefine what photography is and what it can be, a new brush that we get to use for the first time.

In this exhibition I draw inspiration from the art of minimalism, through the use of simple forms and lines. Employing digital technology, I have used a modernist approach to create photographs that are true to the definition of minimalism, and to my artistry. These photographs bring about a heightened sense of drama: intense images communicated by the use of high contrast black and white, grey tones with crisp clean lines of the geometric form, but with a certain amount of realism.

Hope you enjoy this exhibition,

Joseph O'Neill

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