Steven D. Foster: Five Studies
Silver gelatin prints, 4x4" each
Since 1994 I've been making miniature b&w photographs (image size 3½ x 3½"). There are many thematic lines in the "Studies" project. However a single photograph may embody several different themes at once. I love brief pieces of music and short poems. Their concentration and lucid simplicity inspires me to photograph directly and spontaneously. I think of my miniature photographs as little epiphanies of seeing. The sets of five photographs, presented in a single frame, can vary in the way the images are linked together. Sometimes the quintets are simple collections of images that share a single or related theme. Sometimes photographs from two (or more) thematic lines are juxtaposed or interwoven within a quintet. Some linkages are surprising, not immediately understandable. They require the viewer to make an intuitive leap into the space between the images where meaning is not sayable.
The photographs I've been making in the past two years are - in a way - a meditation on the music and ideas of New York composer, Morton Feldman (1926-1987). Feldman often referred to his music as "patterns in a chromatic field." According to writer Mark Swed: "Feldman wrote a music of prismatic beauty ... He set up environments in which sounds beautifully made are allowed to be viewed ... as if suspended in space." In a similar way I isolate and suspend my subjects in a field of black space. In some quintets the linkages form graphic / rhythmic patterns not unlike a musical notation. Most recently I've been photographing garages, garage doors, boarded garage windows and other architectural details. I love the simplicity of the garage form. Over time garages take on human-like characteristics. Indeed, some photographs in this series are portraits, or character studies. Some photographs are simply documents of a garage's elegant vernacular form. I'm fascinated by the way architectural space can be re-constructed in picture space. Though my darkroom manipulations are not always apparent, some of my photographs are radical visual inventions and transformations. I love the way a garage, when reduced to a miniature image suspended in black space, becomes a self-luminous jewel - Stephen D. Foster.