Harold E. “Doc” Edgerton’s photos fascinate because they show us what we don’t ordinarily see. Edgerton, who died in 1990, taught electrical engineering at MIT. He employed a stroboscopic flash to capture movement unfolding.
A playful show at Gallery Kayafas pairs Edgerton photos with those of contemporary photographer Matthew Gamber, who is likewise concerned with what our eyes don’t see. But instead of simply illustrating what we’ve missed, as Edgerton’s photos do, Gamber’s explore how our brains fill in the gaps.
Beside Edgerton’s series “Hammer Breaks Glass Plate,” hangs Gamber’s “Shattered,” for which he took a photo of broken glass and made a transfer print onto Plexiglas. Mounted at a relief from the backing, the jagged image casts a shadow and creates the illusion of a hole in a piece of frosted glass. For the viewer, there’s an “Aha!” moment piecing the concept together, not unlike the discovery that Edgerton’s images provide.
HAROLD E. EDGERTON & MATTHEW GAMBER:Basic Ingredients of a Complex World
More often, Edgerton’s work provides a springboard for Gamber’s conceptual musings. The baton twirling over pale, processing feet clad in loafers and bobby socks in Edgerton’s “Drum Majorette (Ghost Feet)” has been paired with Gamber’s “Wimbledon.” It’s a bulbous blur of a photogram, for which the artist applied photographic paper to the screen of an old television. Edgerton spells the motion out, and Gamber posits it as a memory, with the vaporous, shimmering contours of a tennis court.
Gamber’s “Dead Bulb (Chandelier)” links formally to Edgerton’s “Sprinkler” through their shared motif of radiating curves. Around the corner, Edgerton’s “Death of a Lightbulb” features four shots of a bullet penetrating a bulb. In Gamber’s photo, one bulb has burned out; it’s about light, not motion. Gorgeous yellow gold surrounds the chandelier, and darkens in subtle gradations toward the edges. This image examines how the eye perceives color as a whole, and how the photographic process constructs it from component parts.
The color photos are Gamber’s most recent, and they feel like uncharted territory; he’s still finding his way. Edgerton applied his stroboscopic method to many things and revealed much, but he was, in the end, more interested in motion than in sight. Maybe that’s why his work feels like energetic records of movement, and Gamber’s, as unsettled as some of it is, feels like art. (Gamber will give an artist’s talk July 17, 6-8 p.m.).
Linda Leslie Brown has built something monstrous yet strangely domestic at Kingston Gallery. “Chimeric,” her installation there, features three large tree-like sculptures fashioned from found objects, quartz crystals, metal, wood, and paper clay. They rise and writhe from the floor, standing precariously on odd little pronged feet, glowing in a pale, lichen-colored green. They rise to funnels, from which live plants spring.
Similar but smaller wall pieces surround them, these clearly emerging from kitchen utensils built into them — a pasta spoon, a spatula. They curve, protrude, and swivel, like plant life growing to accommodate its environs.
Great lengths of Spanish moss sway throughout, languidly draping from one object to the next, rising to the ceiling, falling to the floor. The whole feels partly like a patch of jungle, with its unruly greenery, and partly like a canopy for a wedding, complete with wedding gifts embedded in the structure.
Brown dices and splices, joining the stuff of civilization with the wild’s unpredictability. Her title suggests a chimera, the mythological mutant comprising several different beasties. Bringing in her kitchen items, she seems to tame her creation. This is an enchanting installation; I wish it were a little more big and frightening.
The Hallway Gallery in Jamaica Plain celebrates its 50th exhibition (and new walls in the gallery) with a terrific group show spotlighting emerging artists.
Lindsey Kocur’s mixed-media painting “Now House” is a captivating exploration of space and the built environment, breathlessly segueing from interior to landscape, daringly meshing what’s inside screens or frames with what’s outside. She sets the eye ricocheting down planes, through chutes, and around corners with an exciting array of textures and tones. (Kocur’s thesis exhibition at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts is up through July 27).
Textile artist Leah Medin only just got her bachelor’s at Massachusetts College of Art and Design; her ambitious public installation “The Gold Divide” billowed and gathered light like angel’s wings in the school’s courtyard in April. In “Amsterdam,” her piece here, she weaves the leaves and reeds of a phragmites plant she plucked from the Fens. It looks like a tatami mat losing its religion.
Turning a painterly eye on the most mundane domestic objects, Anthony Palocci Jr. renders “Take-out,” a restrained yet lush depiction of the interior of a wide open takeout container. Palocci starts with an undercoat in warm greens and reds, then paints the crisp geometry of the container over that, leaving traces of those surprising tones to seep out along the seams.
There’s plenty more, including AJ Liberto’s funny, punky “Boster,” a plaster bust of a man after a fight, proud and cut up, with a bandage on his head, and “Learning,” a video of Max Syron’s performance with a long stretch of PVC, an elemental meeting of man and material.
For more information:
LINDA LESLIE BROWN: Chimeric
At: Kingston Gallery,
450 Harrison Ave., through July 28. 617-423-4113, www.kingstongallery.com
At: The Hallway Gallery,
66a South St., Jamaica Plain, through Aug. 24.
Cate McQuaid can be reached at email@example.com