Dan Powell Wall Complex
Fine Art Photograph Collections
Dan Powell: Wall Complex series
Black & white negatives, hand marked and colored prints, 1979
This work was the precursor to the Flow Chart series, and was done in 1979 during my first year of graduate study at the University of Illinois. I lived in a studio apartment above a barber shop in downtown Champaign, off of which was a long hallway, which I used to set up objects and mostly pieces of paper with information, push pins, string, and other materials. A still life, of sorts, was built on the wall surface which was lit by skylight aided by artificial light. Across the hall from my apartment was my darkroom and Kenneth Shore's studio, which I used also in some of the images. This was my set. In the end of my two years of graduate work, the entire hallway was a mass of papers and other materials adhered to the walls. I used an old Mamiya twin lens 2 ¼ camera.
The work dealt with issues of perspective and a visual array of information. Chance encounters occurred between different marks and informational signifiers. The images were printed on semi-matte resin coated paper which received pencil and hand color very well. After printing, the images were marked on with oil paint and acrylic paint (which left a notable surface) and pencil. The work was painterly and investigated the borders between photographic syntax and that of hand marks. This intertwining of the two means of iteration was vital to the work. During the exposure of the print I would often move the easel around in a circular motion to produce a kind of shadowing of the darker areas of the image. The images, rather than being about something, or some place or thing, were visual fields of information, wherein the combination of marks and signifiers were often more to be read as painterly constructs than as actual photographs. But the tension between photographic marks and drawing was vital to the working of these pieces.
This work influenced all the work that followed for the next three years, Flow Chart and Pattern Seekers, both of which became more refined in terms of visual and informational relationships. The Wall Complex work was a series wherein many problems existing between photographic information and marks, and painting and drawing marks, were worked out. Most of this work was heavier with acrylic paint and other hand marks than the later two series.
Image shown: The image shown above is "Wall Complex #6," 1979, a black and white image with markings in pencil, oil and acrylic paints, from the Wall Complex series, Dan Powell photograph collection, PH297_WC_06, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403-1299. All rights are reserved.