Lisa Levine

  • Song Cycle

    Photography has been my primary medium and hence I have been wedded to the concrete for many years. In my most recent work I am interested in the challenges I find in abstraction. My question has been, can I use photo-based material as a means to bypass the concrete world and move my work into pure abstraction? ??In answering this question for myself I have devised a method of drawing and mark-making with digital photographic information that I use to layer image upon image as I build up the surface of the picture plane. I use a flattened perspective so that multiple images are densely compressed within a complex surface. The picture plane becomes a vibrant, kinetic space where many different views and forms come together.  Music is a great inspiration to me and I have used musical notation as a stepping off point in this particular series of works. I’m interested in the sound of specific musical compositions as well as the visual mark-making in the scores themselves. I’ve taken particular interest in early music and music scores as well as those of John Cage, since both use forms of notation that are different from current conventional notation. As a singer I am mostly inspired by vocal music as the voice is fundamentally the first instrument. Delving into music that I have studied thoroughly and been profoundly moved by I create imaginary shapes using scans of the original scores and incorporate these scores with my own mark-marking and forms. 

  • Topographies

    In the Topographies works I have also used the grid as a point of departure. Here, the nature of these fluid constructions presents a discourse of contradictions- micro and macro, time and timelessness, and the containment of things that cannot be contained, movement that cannot be stilled. The grid lends geometry and so tends to "rationalize" or abstract what would otherwise be mainly pictorial.  I am filling a vast expanse, a kind of landscape, without perspective. I refer to the idea of topography, a description or an analysis of a structured entity showing the relations among its components, as a format in which I can keep small details and still make a space that could go on and on, like the ocean itself. When we look at the world we assemble small views into a large idea like "the ocean.”  We can't see it all at once; at least not the way we know it.  My views construct the whole from its parts.

  • Somewhere

    In this series I am working with the notion of place. My sense of the places I know and the places I discover is constructed from an amalgamation of different sights and experiences over time. The works in this series are complex compositions that describe fragments of information, time, and space. I combine these fragments to formulate my impression of a place because I find that no one image alone can describe the sensation of place for me. I must construct it from multiple parts of my experience. I have devised a method of drawing with digital photographic information that I use to layer image upon image as I build up the surface of the image. ; Often an image will be buried within the work, only hinting at its form. It is these layers, each with their traces of objects that intrigue me. They are a way of covering and uncovering, a way of seeing and then seeing again. I use a flattened perspective so that multiple views and locations are densely compressed within a complex surface. The picture plane becomes a vibrant, kinetic space where many different views come together in a landscape without perspective. The industrial landscape, power plants, shipyards, shipping ports and vibrant cities are most appealing to me. These places have a unique aesthetic, sense of color, and rhythm that I find fascinating.

  • Swim

    The Swim series looks at the vernacular choreography generated when people perform the mundane act of swimming. Each person’s body responds in a unique way to the freedom of movement they find when lifted and supported by the water. This unrehearsed choreography fascinates me. When composing the pieces digitally, I look for patterns of movement and rhythms that speak about how the subjects, who become “dancers,” relate to each other in the overall choreography of the scene. I construct specific patterns of dancers across the space allowing each one’s body language to dictate how they will lead to, compliment, contrast, and punctuate the movements of the other. The works are constructed using the grid or rectilinear picture plane as a point of departure. Within the confines of the rigid geometry I look for the organic rhythms of the water and “dancers” to emerge. I enjoy working within this contradictory space where the unyielding geometric structure attempts to contain the fluidity of the water and the bodies.

  • Virtually No Place Like Home

    In my photographic travels I look for unique qualities that are expressed in the exterior of homes.  These qualities are part of what makes them homes, not just houses.  What makes a house a home are the  vestiges of culture, origins and identity invested in them. They provide a space to express the identities of their inhabitants.   In an age of manufactured consumer identity and group identity, Virtually No Place Like Home feels like the authentic “ Americana” from another time we might yearn for; a past where a home is a place of sanctuary, where we shed our masks and embrace the numerous identities that make us who we are, allowing us to safely express ourselves.  Upon closer investigation of this view of “Americana”  a crack in the facade is revealed.  Here the "reality" of each home and the landscape within which it appears is brought into question.  These images are constructions that assimilate fantasy with reality much like the identities we share through social media. They feel somewhat  believable on an aesthetic level as they explore the quirky and unique appearances of homes in the small towns and cities of America.  Yet there is a subtle feeling that there is something manufactured in these images as well.  But can we put our finger on exactly how and where the images depart from reality?  In this series the house/home becomes a metaphor for the self as expressed in our endless posting of selfies that portray a manufactured self, a fabricated life.  The house's exterior is the original social media posting and, as in the portrayal of the "selfie",  a "filter" that blurs the lines between the real and the fabricated has been employed in such a way as to leave us suspecting we've been duped but not knowing where or how. 

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