exchange (Pakistan), 2010
Synthetic polymer on bleached chromogenic print
8.166 x 8 inches on 8.166 x 8 inch paper
Signed Edition of 25 + 5 AP
(American, b. 1979)
The original imagery in Curtis Mann’s Modifications series is copied from a variety of sources: online auctions, photo-sharing websites and estate sales, which in a sense creates a fictional archive through the artist’s selection and collection of other people’s photographs. Mann’s appropriated archive is acquired in digital form. He first makes very minor adjustments with Photoshop and then orders several conventional chemical color prints from an online printing service used by hobbyists. He then paints varnish as a resist over areas of the print he decides to preserve, using standard household bleach to remove the rest. The varnish remains on the final print. He then hand works the isolated objects and people, taking the camera based image into the manual realm of painting and drawing. He adds details such as lines that suggest a stage or platform or forms that seem to replicate comic strip thought balloons.
In the Modifications series, Mann is interested in how the slightest adjustment in either the production or final use of the photograph can produce an entirely new set implications, only some, or even none, of which may have the slightest connection to the facts of the world in front of the camera. In a sense he is replicating the judgmental action of our eyes as we initially scan a photograph, or an archive, for familiar evidence, grasping what we prefer to see and allowing the unfamiliar and unknown to disappear.