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.
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.