ADDITIVE was a site-specific collaborative installation by Kathy Lovas and Lynné Bowman Cravens created in response to the Upstairs Project Space at 500X Gallery. ADDITIVE represents the natural evolution of the artists’ initial serendipitous photographic project #lovaslectures.
The project began as Kathy was lecturing to her large photography class at UNT, and Lynné, her teaching assistant at the time, was listening attentively. From her front seat vantage point Lynné began surreptitiously snapping photos of Kathy each week with her cell phone and posting them to Instagram. After “liking” the photos, Kathy screen-grabbed and processed them via the app Glitché, and printed them out as 30x30 and 10x10 inch vinyl banners, a material commonly used for public signage; the eventual body of sixty #lovaslectures signs draw attention to the phenomenon of photographic indexicality while pointing to the many topics covered in a university photography class.
Mounted in colored frames, the glitchéd photos are signs that speak in multiple ways to the rapidly evolving definition of photography. Unstable images, scripted mistakes, repetition, automation, and versioning reflect the back and forth dialogue inherent in the classroom learning process, and simultaneously point to a 21st century liberation of photography from the historic perspective of monocular human vision. Consciously blurring the boundaries between traditional disciplines, these photo banner readymades invite viewers’ imaginative participation in our current post-internet collective image environment.
As often happens, one idea leads to another. Lynné continued to experiment and created a series of silver gelatin prints, exposed in the darkroom enlarger directly from her cell phone, depicting greatly enlarged elements of her original photos. Closely cropped to draw attention to poignant details, such as hands and eyes, these new works exhibit the evident pixellation characteristic of digital images, and they remind us of Roland Barthes’ historic notion of the punctum. Freely moving into sculpture, Kathy painted readymade folding chairs in randomly dripped colors adapted from the #lovaslectures banners. Finally, the two artists designed and installed wallpaper as a backdrop for their classroom stage, and they cast and attached plaster replicas of their hands to the chairs like frosting roses on a cake.
ADDITIVE exemplifies one of the many benefits flowing from a strong mentor/mentee relationship. It is reflective of Kathy’s teaching philosophy, in which students are encouraged to use the classroom as a laboratory to create alternative presentations and mini-installations.