Notes On The Observer is an exhibition of works from several of John Divola’s past and present photographic series, including As Far as I Could Get, Subject Observations and images from Divola’s current exploration with GigaPan technology. The two sets of works in the main area of the gallery immediately catch the viewers’ attention; large, intricate, color photographs are juxtaposed against smaller, grainy black and white images lining the room. The large, glossy prints from the GigaPan series nearly cover two walls and absorb the viewer as you walk in. Divola uses GigaPan technology to create these images; the GigaPan robotic mount allows digital cameras to take individual images and then stitch them together to make one large, extremely high resolution composite image. Smaller black and white prints are spaced amongst the other walls of the gallery. These works, from his As Far as I Could Get series, show Divola running away from a camera set up on a tri-pod and taken with a self-timer.
Divola’s work comments on how photography is not just a singular moment in time, not just the split second the shutter opens and closes, but how it can also be a record of the progression of time, and of the moments occurring during such. In his As Far As I Could Get series, the progression is Divola running away from the camera; with the GigaPan photos the progression is the lapse of time as he makes the multiple images. The viewer can even see the amount of light in the image individual images change as the time of day advances, enhancing this idea. The single moment the image is recorded becomes less important as Divola highlights the act of creating that moment through these works. Divola beautifully captures these records of time and leaves the viewer to question what time means to them. Will they allow it to simply lapse, as Divola does with the Gigapan, or will they be an active participant and try to escape as far as they can, as Divola does in the As Far As I Could Get series?
The images in Notes on the Observer explore time and permanence in two very different, yet effective methods; which is more effective will ultimately depend on the observer.