We have been watching Mel Edelman exploring the photographic universe of his installation piece Things Undone.

In this work Edelman has constructed three human-scale buildings complete with doors, windows, electrical lights and fictional inhabitants. As visitors enter each space they discover the belongings, collections, letters, journals, and photographs of a cast of interrelated characters. Edelman relies on the veracity of the visual document, the lynchpin of photography, to authenticate the histories and lives of the characters. The yellowish patina of the paint and the frayed corners on the journals, as well as detailed connections between one space and the next give the houses and their inhabitants a sense of history and age that is in sharp contrast to the white gallery walls.

While photography relies on our belief in the actual existence of the pictured subject, the theatrical derives from the human predisposition toward imagination, memory and the dream. In his installation Edelman contrasts the modes of theater and fact, exploiting the tension between the photograph as a true record of reality and the photograph as disembodied, fictitious artifact.

Flash video
| 1 min 02 seg | 7.5 Mb  

Edelman began his career as a photographer, not a carpenter or installation artist, and the pictorial space of this installation is derived from the operations of both documentary and metaphorical photography and grounded in the most unadorned, fundamental notions of photographic exposure and composition. But his work also relates to computer simulations and virtual reality. It is made possible by Hypermedia’s potential for combination and amalgamation. As the other artists I will show, Edelman synthesizes in a single work the prerogatives of many media. Here the flow and dimensionality of built-form and the theatrical is juxtaposed with the flat still image; the representative is contrasted with the actual; and the physicality of moving through the world is juxtaposed with the meditative inactivity of the typical observer of photography.


Cover | Conferences Index | ZoneZero Home