Pictura Gallery

Hidden Light | Cody Cobb + Raymond Thompson Jr

September 7, 2023| curatorial, gallery walk

Cobb Thompson Install14

Curatorial Note

When you are in the dark, most things feel like a discovery.” — Cody Cobb

Hidden Light presents two artists who use the tools of photography to reveal color that might otherwise be unseen. In the process of applying light to landforms, pixels, and paper, they draw out brilliance from within, making it visible for us. Cody Cobb shines ultraviolet radiation into the darkness to reveal strange luminescence in the American wilderness. Raymond Thompson Jr. works directly with the sun to make lumen prints of the body, obscuring the human form in celestial darkness. The show observes surprisingly intimate qualities in the land, and explores the body as its own kind of hidden landscape. 

Thompson’s series, Playing In the Dark, is displayed in two ways, and both presentations conceal his figure differently. Lumen prints flatten the tonal range, so that the form and negative space begin to blend together. These delicate prints are intimate and somewhat inscrutable, soft brown and selenium tones reclaiming shades of subtlety from the history of the white gaze. The original prints have also been scanned and allowed to take on vibrant colors in the process, and then produced again as inkjet prints. In these, we swim through pools of gemlike color to seek out the body. 

Being in the dark and without visual sensory input can bring a new kind of clarity. What new things are seen in the darkness? What previously unnoticed details come into focus when the whole is not entirely illuminated? In Spectral, Cobb follows this question to startling effect. In a red canyon, the powder blue phosphorescent glow of the water shows it as a precious and extraordinary substance. The stream leads to the bush like a blood line, imbuing it with life. The only reason we get to see what these landscapes look like at night is because Cobb has brightened them, moving a handheld lightsource over the land’s contours during a long exposure. Like an airport marshall, he signals our attention towards the hidden delight of bioluminescence. 

Cobb and Thompson disrupt our practiced way of seeing by removing memory colors from their images. Memory colors are the color a beholder considers to be characteristic for an object. Two of the most common things that hold memory color are sky and skin, and these are often used by photographers to establish a sense of reality in their photographs. By shifting the colors we expect, Thompson and Cobb clear the path of our built-in assumptions and default ways of seeing, making space for a new type of vision to form

Click to see the full exhibition web page

Kid’s Workshop

Ms. Hilary led the Pictura Kids in a workshop focused on the Raymond Thompson Jr.‘s work. They used scans of their hands to make a collaborative piece as well as individual creations using glow in the dark paints.