From the earliest days in the history of photography, there have been determined efforts to push the medium beyond its revolutionary ability to capture realistic two-dimensional imagery and to expand photographic images even further into three dimensions. Devices such as the stereoscope, 3D movie glasses, and virtual reality headsets have offered increasingly realistic three-dimensional photographic experiences, but these have largely remained in the domain of popular entertainment, intended to “trick” the eye into seeing a sculptural object where only a flat image (or a digital image) exists.
In the 1960s and ’70s, a number of contemporary artists sought to challenge the boundaries of medium specificity by embracing mixed-media forms that often involved a deliberate blurring of boundaries between photographic images and sculptural forms. But by the end of the 1970s, the formal or physical ideas around three-dimensional photography were considered to be largely played out, and artists turned in other directions.
In recent years, however, some contemporary artists have again been attracted to the potential for three-dimensional photography – not just to challenge modernist categories, and even less for the sake of easy entertainment. Instead, new artistic practices are emerging that embrace and revel in the material qualities of photography itself – its palpable physicality rather than its representational or symbolic capacities. This exhibition presents three contemporary Canadian artists – Karin Bubaš, Natalie Hunter, and Karen Zalamea – who each explore the potential for photographic images to be spatial, experiential, and material, but who do so in different ways and to different ends.