Philip V. Augustin
My natural impulse is to simplify the world into minimal, formalist compositions. Over the past forty years I have developed a mastery of technique that allows me to create simple images presented in an elegant manner. This simplification has progressively evolved into abstraction. My current work uses abstraction to question the boundaries of the photographic process but the impulse to explore the essence of the medium can be traced back across my career.
My practice is based on the silver gelatin print and on celebrating its unique physical and visual characteristics. I believe the photographic print continues to be an object of theoretical, historical and cultural significance. This contrasts sharply with an increasing trend toward non-physical media, virtual images composed of binary code, observable only through algorithms and zipping around cyberspace. Not that this practice is wrong, I simply view it as a medium separate from photography.
While the photographic print as an object forms the framework of my creative practice, at the heart of all my work is the power of an idea. Pursuing the questions raised by these ideas leads me to creative solutions that result in the images. Each image I pursue must hold an element of surprise or uncertainty that motivates me to push forward and question assumptions as I work toward its final realization. Certainty leads to complacency, the death of creativity. Ultimately, I create work to think through creative problems; once I have solved them, I tend to move to another question or idea.
For me a successful image must work on multiple levels simultaneously - from theoretical to simple aesthetic enjoyment. My images are created without narrative intent, they are what they are, and I believe any meaning resides with the viewer. Regardless of the thought process and problem solving that brought them into being, my images are ultimately viewed through the viewer’s filter of experiences, prejudices and opinions.
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