PHOTOBOOK REVIEWS, INTERVIEWS AND WRITE-UPS
ALONG WITH THE LATEST PHOTO-EYE NEWS

Social Media

Book Review : Shifting Views and Changing Places


Book Review Shifting Views and Changing Places By Rick Dingus Reviewed by Blake Andrews Although Dingus shifted over the course of his career from "photo-drawing" into straight photography, several early themes remained consistent throughout. These include a fascination with place, landscape and artifact, exploration of museum/interpretive sites, the effect of photography on the photographed, and the nexus between humans and the natural world.
Shifting Views and Changing Places. Photographs by Rick Dingus
University of Oklahoma Press, 2016. 
 
Shifting Views and Changing Places
Reviewed by Blake Andrews.

Shifting Views and Changing Places.
The Photographs of Rick Dingus.
Text by Rick Dingus. Contribution by Lucy R. Lippard and Shelley Armitage. Editor by Peter S. Briggs. Foreword by Toby Jurovics.
University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK, USA, 2016. In English. 224 pp., 10½x12x1".

Anyone who has shared interior walls with young children knows that the marking impulse runs deep in humans. Whatever material is handy will do. Sometimes just a piece of paper, sometimes spray paint on a train yard boxcar or ocher in a secluded cave will do the trick. In every case the basic instinct is the same: to leave some visual residue.

One could argue that all photography is a loose manifestation of this impulse. But Rick Dingus has taken it more literally than most. For a twenty-year period at the peak of his career, he drew on the surfaces of his many photographs using crayon, graphite, and silver-colored pencil. Seeking "to acknowledge photographs as constructed objects, neither neutral witnesses nor transparent windows on the world as it is," he left plenty of visual residues. They began as loose doodles on silver gelatin prints, scribbled experiments in texture. His technique progressed, and within a few years of steady practice, Dingus had carved out a recognizable style all his own. It's a blend of underlying photographs and superimposed markings, which combine to create graphic storms of photo-surrealism, a deft display of mastery and creativity. Whereas Winogrand famously said "I photograph to see what things look like photographed," Dingus's version might be "I alter photographs to see how scenes look altered."

Shifting Views and Changing Places. Photographs by Rick Dingus. University of Oklahoma Press, 2016.

These montages are just one aspect of a long and wide-ranging career. In addition to decades teaching photography at Texas Tech University, Dingus was a formative member of Mark Klett's Second View Rephotographic Survey, the author of a respected book on Timothy O'Sullivan, and the founder of The Millennial Collection at Texas Tech. Despite his various accomplishments, his photo drawings remain the work most closely associated with Dingus, and they form the core of his recently published retrospective, Shifting Views & Changing Places. A multi-sectioned chapter covering five projects over two decades, Photo Drawings occupies more than a third of the book.

Shifting Views and Changing Places. Photographs by Rick Dingus. University of Oklahoma Press, 2016.

Remarkably, Shifting Views & Changing Places is the first monograph to focus on Dingus' photographs. The task of curating 45 years of photographs into one book is not easy, and the resulting book is a broad chronological survey. In addition to photo drawings, the book touches on the later Dingus projects, such as Double Visions, Regarding Technology, Llano Estacado, Here: There, Star Party & Infrared Aerials, each with a short artist’s statement followed by a curated portfolio. Essays contributed by Toby Jurovics, Lucy R. Lippard, and Shelley Armitage supplement all of this material. There's plenty of rhetoric and analysis throughout, giving the book a scholarly tone. This is, after all, published by a university press and aimed squarely at the academic crowd. The word "landscapes" encapsulated in quotation marks drives home the point. But the photographs are accessible and interesting enough to entertain laymen as well as teachers.

Shifting Views and Changing Places. Photographs by Rick Dingus. University of Oklahoma Press, 2016.

Although Dingus shifted over the course of his career from "photo-drawing" into straight photography, several early themes remained consistent throughout. These include a fascination with place, landscape and artifact, exploration of museum/interpretive sites, the effect of photography on the photographed, and the nexus between humans and the natural world. In Dingus' words, "I'm interested in any situation that prompts contemplation of the curiously complex connections we share with the larger patterns of existence. Remote wilderness and rural settings, vernacular byways, urban environments, ancient pathways, ruins, historic, mythic and spiritual pilgrimage sites, scientific and technological research facilities, folks and professional museums, shrines, collections, displays, and dioramas all fascinate me."

Shifting Views and Changing Places. Photographs by Rick Dingus. University of Oklahoma Press, 2016.

Throw in the basic human urge to leave a mark and that's a lot to unpack. Dingus' early photo drawings bristle with the raw energy of someone trying to cram every such impulse into one image. In later years his straight projects untangled the creative rope and allowed space for each facet to be explored with less clutter. The book's chronological organization helps smooth out the bumps while drawing natural connections. Each project is highlighted in turn, allowing the general career thread to surface subtly. Overall, it's a great introduction to a prolific and — until now — somewhat overlooked American photographer. — Blake Andrews

Purchase Book

BLAKE ANDREWS is a photographer based in Eugene, OR. He writes about photography at blakeandrews.blogspot.com.

Read more book reviews


No comments:

Post a Comment