Dark and electric, minimal and explosive, it’s hard to not have a visceral reaction to the incendiary images of Patterson Beckwith at his second solo show for Mesler & Hug. The evocative images are called “strobographs, meaning that each event is photo-graphed up to six times as it elapses.”
Everyday objects are given the fast track to entropy in this vibrant display of high-speed photography. Beckwith has captured multiple exposures within a half second’s time, allowing him to freeze, in a dazzling display of color, every haphazardly strewn drop of liquid and randomly spewed piece of glass.
The eruptive and destructive nature of the content is given an energetic pulse and dance with the bright, neon hues. The volcanic cheeseburger emanates a disco glam-our as its contents fly into pitch darkness. The airplane’s rainbow trajectory could easily make an appearance on the video monitor of an all night rave.
And while each strobograph radiates sound and life, the subject matter is decidedly in-organic. Smashed fluorescent lights, popping balloons, even the hands are mannequin.
The stillness and silence in the midnight background add to this frozen, lifeless effect, and serve as a striking juxtaposition to the chaos and action in the foreground.
Beckwith’s play with time and and speed has been expertly realized with these images. You can hear them, you can feel them and, in some cases, you can even taste them. And yet, simultaneously, you feel the overwhelming death that each object is meeting.
It’s alive and eerily devoid of life at the same time.
(Images from top to bottom: Untitled (Shake Strobograph ii, 20 μs x 5, 2008), 16 x 20, C-print; Untitled (French Fry Strobograph i, 20 μs x 5, 2008), 16 x 20, C-print; all images courtesy Mesler&Hug)