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Oakville Galleries at Centennial Square
Vibrant and enigmatic, Jessica Eaton's work considers the very nature of photography. Using a large format film camera, she has developed a complex and experimental approach to image-making. Wild Permutations—the artist's first solo museum show—focuses on her investigations into the behaviour and production of colour.
Photography is connected to our ability to observe the physical world. Colour photographs developed out of the scientific discovery that light breaks down into a spectrum, and that every visible colour can be mixed from three primaries (red, green, and blue). To this day, the RGB colour system is the basis for commercially available film and digital imaging processes. Eaton engages with the rules of this system, breaking it down in order to present alternative ways of seeing.
In 2010, she began photographing grey-toned cubes and pyramids through red, green and blue lens filters. Using multiple exposures, she “mixes" colours directly onto film, generating pulsing forms, chromatic blurs and puzzling shifts in surface and depth. These effects appear to defy the logic of time and space, challenging the notion that a photograph captures a single moment. More recently, Eaton has begun a series of works that use black-and-white film and additional filters to record ultraviolet and infrared light, both invisible to the human eye. These negatives are translated into colour through the carbon process, one of the oldest printing methods. This process gives Eaton a high degree of control over the creation of colour, allowing her to deviate from “natural" appearances.
All of Eaton's projects ask a central question: what “reality" does a photograph capture? Calling up diverse references—from still life vanitas to hard-edge abstraction, colour theory diagrams and optical illusions—Eaton's work deeply engages with vision on physiological, technological and philosophical terms.
Jessica Eaton: Wild Permutations is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland and Transformer Station, Cleveland. Curated by Rose Bouthillier, Associate Curator, MOCA Cleveland.