‘When,’ asks the New York-based photographer Mariah Robertson, ‘do the rules that govern photography actually limit photography?’ This question, which stands at the core of Robertson’s eclectic, ceaselessly experimental oeuvre, might be answered by Gladiola Window RGB #1, previously exhibited at the 2012 Saatchi Gallery exhibition ‘Out of Focus: Photography’. A seemingly mundane image – a gladiola in front of a window, partially concealed by blinds – is transmuted through digital collaging techniques and filters in the primary red, green and blue of the light spectrum into a kaleidoscopic fantasia. Although all the elements of the original photograph are recognisable, Robertson’s rule-breaking has transfigured reality into illusion. The work’s near-geometric layout harks back to early twentieth-century abstract painting, while its formal trickery recalls the avant-garde experiments of Man Ray. Robertson’s work, which is held in the Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Sir Elton John Photography Collection, constitutes a significant continuation of this earlier exploratory tradition.
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