In the summer of 2014, the Cannon Gallery of Art invited me to undertake a collaborative residency with Stephanie Boluk, a scholar and media theorist from Pratt Institute, and Daniel Tankersley, an artist on faculty at Western Oregon University. From July 7 to 17, we engaged the gallery, the campus, and the state of Oregon to produce tilt/SHIFT, an exhibition of a dozen new artworks focusing on a network of photographic images, graphic user interfaces, media archeology, and site-specific art.
The term "tilt-shift" refers to a photographic technique in which the angle (tilt) and position (shift) of a lens are skewed in relation to the film or digital sensor. This can be used to produce a kind of hyperselective focus, blurring all but a thin, sharp plane within an image—an effect that results in a miniaturized or toylike appearances. The same narrowing of visual attention is enacted by a “manicule,” the miniature, pointing hand that first appeared in medieval manuscripts and is commonly used to represent the mouse cursor in the graphic user interfaces of computer operating systems. Click, drag, tilt, shift: both tilt-shift photography and the manicule icon function according to an aesthetic of selection.
Paper or plastic? Coke or Pepsi? iPhone or Android? In the 21st century, selection expands from the conscious choice of individuals into a collective nonconscious—a cultural ideology structuring attention and desire. Upvote, like, heart, favorite: ubiquitous media platforms like Google and Facebook aggregate billions of individual selections into an invisible economy of clicks, flowing through The Dalles like the waters of the Columbia River. From a giant shift key to tilt-shift photography, and from shifted and tilted gallery furniture to the shifts and tilts of arcade play, tilt/SHIFT renders the culture of selection visible by appropriating its aesthetic.
Made with Stephanie Boluk and Daniel Tankersley during a ten-day residency at the Dan and Gail Cannon Gallery of Art at Western Oregon University in 2014.