Noxious Sector Projects
312 S. Washington St.
Seattle WA 98104

Tanya Doody

Materialising the Medium

In a digital age, the act of trusting the image has become its own form of art - a curious negotiation of old and new media that transposes faith in the evidence of photography against suspicion in the sorts of manipulation we know to be all too easy to perform. In some ways it makes more sense to speak of mediumship rather than media - since every image asks us to go along in some way with the stories it presents. Whether we do so or not is the deciding factor determining the status of the image in a technological world.

But from some perspectives this is an old story - not the manipulation of the digital image but the act of willingness that has always been central to the engagement with art. The English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge called it the "suspension of disbelief," trusting that a writer will have a story to tell if we are just willing to listen. The artist Tanya Doody calls it "faith beyond foolishness," but she doesn't mean it as a critique. Instead, in a world beyond truth - our technological world of falsified images and propaganda - this gesture of willingness is the only guarantee of participating in the stories of others. It's a gamble with both knowledge and the human spirit in which one chooses community over skepticism, even if one runs the risk of being fooled in the process.

And so, a question: when does a medium become more than a medium - an artistic representation taking form in strange ways, sometimes even bordering on the paranormal? Is photography like mediumship - capturing, channeling and representing something that once existed but has now disappeared forever, and perhaps possessing the minds of the viewer in the process? And even if it isn't, can we go along with the story for even a little while - beyond foolishness - in order to engage with the idea that a photograph might in some way allow us access to the imaginations of others?