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Crosbie's New Series Blurs the Line between the Real and the Abstract
Photo by Tyson Crosbie
Tyson Crosbie is a Phoenix area transplant most recently hailing from Austin, TX. His new series of abstract photographs taken in the Phoenix area is being released May 1st and contains a host of striking images that bridge the gap between photography and abstract expressionism.
In some ways Crosbie's work can be described as a combination, an attempt to rectify realism and abstraction. A photograph, after all, is an image of a real thing, while an abstraction is a representation. One could take a photograph of a person and it would be deemed equivalent to a figure drawing. Likewise, one could take a photographic still life, or landscape, and from the perspective of the audience its beauty would be judged on the same essential principles on which we judge the form and content of any painted work. All technical comparisons would be based on the media and intent of the artist. Yet, abstract photography is a term that one doesn't hear very often because it is unarguably much trickier to divorce reality from a picture.
"As a photographer, I'm always objective; my whole process is observation," Tyson said in a recent interview.
This translates into abstract work because of what and how he goes about the process. He seeks out "really bright colors that convey emotion ... a projection of myself". The result is something more like an abstract painting than a photograph.
Looking at his work, it is known that the object is real, but what the object is has been denied, obfuscated by the frame. More importantly, Crosbie succeeds in making the object on which his subject exists irrelevant to the subject of the piece. It may well have been a scrawl of paint he found on a sidewalk, but that has nothing to do with the picture (by way of an example, I don't believe such a piece is in his new series). The "where" and the "what" give way to considering the artist's emotional state. Instead of asking, "what did the artist find compelling about this object?" the viewer is forced to ask "what was the artist feeling when this picture was taken?" because that is what the picture is trying to capture. This leads one to attempt to translate the image as a message, even though it remains an observation.
Crosbie is well studied, and manages to engage a method of communication by seeking out images reminiscent of other artists as a means of build meaning into his work. He has referred to this method as akin to Isaac Newton's 'standing on the shoulders of giants' in prior artist statements. The phrase is apt in that, like Newton, Crosbie is attempting to frame his thoughts in a new language. Newton did so by inventing Calculus, Crosbie is attempting to do so through of shapes and images. The methodology Tyson employs is vague but not impenetrable. He may have a piece reminiscent of Rothko, and thus to uncover his intention one must first understand Rothko's intention. It is a allusion more so than derivation, and in doing so Crosbie is demonstrating what poets might call a conservation of words, except of course that there are no words.
That might require further explanation. Suppose I were to use the word "fascist" to describe a political figure. Even though that word has a very clinical definition it still carries a great amount of emotional information. The reader interprets this as (one would hope) revulsion. I didn't build that implied emotional content into the word, but using it spares me the need to expound on my dislike of said political figure. Get it? The same is true of Crosbie's work. He can imply sentiment similar to other bygone artists by taking a picture of something reminiscent of their work. The idea is intriguing and the resulting images should not be something one just 'gets' without a little thought.
While no exhibitions are currently slated, Crosbie has decided to release the series using online media (which we can certainly appreciate) on May 1st. and will be following the series with a book of all 20 images to be released later in the month. Images from the series can be viewed at his website http://tysoncrosbie.com.