Shotgun Review

Untitled Landscapes (California)

By Brady Welch September 15, 2010

Shards of memory, passing moments, and the act of grasping at something which moves on inexorably characterize the signposts dotting the landscape of San Francisco photographer Sean McFarland.

His solo show, Untitled Landscapes (California), on view at Adobe Books Backroom Gallery until Sep. 19, is a subtle meditation on the way in which images of the landscape—in this case, California's—augment the flux within human psychology. Literally paring his photographs down to highly concentrated doses, some no larger than a thumbnail, McFarland also applied to each a layer of wax, diluting the photo's visual content. This is the point, of course, since photography, like memory, is time frozen. And time which stands still is no time at all, but a singular figment, a hazy dream. Some of these  photos were probably shot from a passing car window. Others look more studied. A skyline at dusk. The open sea. A windless meadow. The exhibition's curator, Katie Hood Morgan, no doubt mindful of the rewards offered by unmixed concentration, has done an excellent job with the sometimes awkwardly limiting aspects of the bookshop's backroom gallery space. 

Untitled Landscapes (California), Installation View. Courtesy of the Artist and Adobe Books Backroom Gallery, San Francisco. Photo by Katie Hood Morgan.

McFarland's pieces are arranged on one wall, in a slightly haphazard grid, and the payoff is large when you peer in close. Written in miniature and taken in aggregate, Untitled Landscapes (California) pulls off an affecting narrative sweep—one that might find you lost in the many moments that seem like memories you've had, but are actually those we all somehow share.


Untitled Landscapes (California) is on view at Adobe Books Backroom Gallery through September 19, 2010.  

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