by Julia Clinker
La Farge presented herself as an artist who has rejected traditional
views on photography as a pure medium. In her presentation she
projected her work in chronological order, from her first expressionistic
works to her latest Internet pieces.
an early body of work La Farge manipulated both negative and print
to reject the notion of photography as a tool for objective observation.
She layered Inda ink over her photographs in reference to 19th
century views on painting and photography. By scratching into
the negatives she destroyed the idea of the negatives integrity.
To quote La Farge, The more dissatisfied I got with photography
as a pure medium, the more interested I got in distorting the
Farge referred to the second body of work presented as false
color photography in which she transformed the mountains
of the Sierra Nevadas into lunar landscapes
by distorting colors and points of gravity in the images. La Farge
used a highly artificial color palette to break the rules of traditional
color theory. This was motivated by her disinterest in discussions
of photography that centered on the aesthetics of color and form.
She developed a method of printing these images where she sandwiched
altered negatives and projected light through them in order to
obliterate any sense of traditional purity in the images.
Farges appetite for expression in the handling of the photographic
medium led her to her third body of work where she constructed
collages that combined photographs, drawings, paintings, printmaking,
and etching. Rather than accept the label of mixed media
on her work, La Farge wanted her audience to recognize that her
collages represented an interpenetrating world of media. She referred
to herself as a chameleon when it comes to media and rejects any
classification of her work in that way.
Farge began another chapter of her career under the auspices of
the Museum of Forgery. Here she carried the concerns addressed
in her earlier work further by attempting to address social issues
of reality and reproduction in art. In a work titled Solstice
1, La Farge invited several artists to contribute works of
text and drawings to be bound in a notebook and distributed randomly
to people. She then ripped several pages from the book, wrapped
them in a semi-archival way and buried them in the ground. La
Farge photographed and mapped the locations of the burial sites
and compiled the information into a notebook titled Solstice
2. La Farge tried to create a kind of informal time capsule
or treasure map of sorts, and at the same time address the notion
of the treasured art-piece.
all of the work presented, La Farge attempted to address issues
of posterity in art making, and to shatter the barriers of traditional
confines of the photographic medium. La Farges methods and
inquiries offer alternatives for image-makers who dont want
to be classified or limited by their medium. La Farges most
recent work explores the Internet as a domain where she can construct
worlds without boundaries. La Farge combines her desire to create
a sense of fantasy with her deep connection to language in virtual
theater pieces that are performed on the Internet in a virtual
space called a MOO.
are text-based worlds in which La Farge creates scenarios for
actors to use as a guideline for improvisation on-line. As in
La Farges earlier work, her primary concern in these pieces
is to create events that loosely resemble familiar reality but
follow their own innate logic, somewhat as dreams do. An excerpt
from a scene concerning the presidential election of 1996 illustrates
the satirical nature of her work.
dead are not the real majority
according to the latest poll
you sure about that
correct. Its a given fact.
also serves to show the psychologically strange space La Farge
has created because it is unclear who is speaking.
the end, La Farge considers her virtual plays as works of art
that incorporate many facets of the imagination and the intellect.
Combining text, performance, language, and fantasy, La Farge creates
works in a world that offers us an alternative space to dream,
question, search, alter, and exist.
by Are Flagan
La Farge practices the art of conversation. In her many projects
exploring the borderline between what might be perceived of as
imaginary or real, a necessary link between form and content,
or an appearance and its meaning, comes under scrutiny as these
polarities mingle and merge in various works. What emerges is
a layered conversation of matter and metaphysics, and at this
philosophical limit of possibility, a discourse traverses the
strata of dialogues and dialectics to practice an extensive form
of rhetoric. At these intersections of conversation, La Farge
introduces her emphasis on the performative aspects of communication.
art of conversation used to be an acquired skill, and the ability
to converse well within certain circles was the desirable mark
of an exemplary education and its corresponding social position.
Verbal exchange in these circumstances was the echo of learned
and conditioned responses; perhaps more an affirmation of what
was known and considered proper, than an experience seeking to
expand on the social etiquette of finishing school. These hopelessly
constrained efforts at meaningful interaction have seemingly disappeared
with altered demands in the social sphere, but within the vocabularies
of our celebrated multiplicity, where the morphological materiality
of many voices inhabits numerous points of view, the familiar
territory of conversation as communication might still be considered
an integral part of making sense.
Antoinette La Farge opens up the MUD (Multiple User Domain) to
interaction, she initiates a form of conversation to reform communication.
Performance pieces of small talk in text have been scripted and
distributed to each participant prior to the event, and the role
of individual identity has consequently been delineated along
with the perception of others belonging to the same cast
the stage is literally set. Once chat commences according to the
guidelines, conversation flows without the awkwardness of silence
or an inappropriate remark, and communication functions with its
familiar and natural ease. The signature of each event is already
contextualized in correct responses a script has been disseminated
and is gathered in this play of syntactic and semantic rules evolving
according to the plan. This game between partners in the MUD evolves
after the pattern until established dialogue is interspersed with
other textual elements from a variety of external sources. Between
these lines, the proper is found out of context, and due to these
additions, the mechanical reiteration of prepared aphorisms is
supplemented by acts of improvisation. Preformed conversation
is suddenly transformed in order to perform as communication.
the rigidity of a system, operating as the determination of an
elusive expectancy, has been allowed a level of flexibility, nothing
might seem to separate theory from a lapse into gossip. But the
crucial words of Antoinette La Farges work is a juncture
of medium and message at the communicative event where signature
meets context in conversation, only to pass and part again. Her
persistent insistence on method, as the facility of meaning, avoids
both absolute closure or complete nonsense by focusing on the
interaction of opposites in a continuing performance, which remains
the talking point. Within the technology driven media employed
to make this point, in this instance, the notion of interaction
describes a desire to expand on connections between interfaces,
open up for dialogue and discourse in the cybernetic universe
on our threshold, and converse across the boundaries of human
and machine. Another borderline, repeated from the beginning and
once more in a figure of speech, poses the challenge of engagement,
and a consultation with previous conversations might resolve what
emerges from communication in this developing world. To interact
relies upon the approved parameters of previous constraints, but
do not the improvised performances in Antoinette La Farges
MUD remind us not to forget that script is never scripture?