Danny Goodwin’s “Duct Tape Decoy” (2014).
Danny Goodwin’s “Duct Tape Decoy” (2014).

Object Oriented Ontology, also known as “Speculative Realism”, occupies a new philosophical position in logical space, attempting to define a set of theses about all that is. According to proponents of “OOO” (as the cool kids dub the doctrine), objects are all that there is. And there are a lot of them. You’re an object; I’m an object; and all the crap between you and me, both living and nonliving, are objects. Under OOO, the conventional hierarchy of living matter vs. nonliving matter is effectively obliterated. Everything—people, potted plants, potholes, porn star posters, rolls of duct tape, and more—is an object that is scattered across the savannah of existence. All are equal and all are on the same plane, ontologically speaking.[1] This “weird realism” (as the founder of OOO, Graham Harmon terms it) is an apt way of thinking about the “stuff” of the Anthropocene. Much of the matter that is carved up into discrete objects, each with its own epistemological and ontological status, will continue to exist in the post-human, weird world of a radically altered climate long after we’ve managed to render ourselves extinct. By training their lenses on the objects and assemblages of the Anthropocene, photographers Justin Baker and Danny Goodwin offer a glimpse into an alternate, speculative reality of the World of Things.

Baker’s still-life images, made with an ancient 8×10” wooden view camera, invites the viewer not only to stare at the arrangements of quotidian ephemera he’s gathered and presented, but to space out, drift off, and dream. In fact, to test the elasticity of that metaphor, his work more precisely resides in the space between waking and dreaming—whether drifting off or coming to. The paradox of coming to grips with something by letting go more completely is laid bare—diagrammed, in fact. Just follow the easy-assembly instructions and add water.

Justin Baker’s “Savannah, fern and rug” (2014).
Justin Baker’s “Savannah, fern and rug” (2014).

For Goodwin, the object is currency, part of a systematic staging. His photographs translate our believability of objects into an imitation of, or detour into, what we think we see. Hand-constructed environments and objects impersonate their virtual counterparts and reveal the circular logic that undergirds much of the current popular fascination with 3D printing and the “internet of things.” The familiar checkerboard grid of a transparent layer in Photoshop, which is now more a signifier of empty space than actual empty space, represents more than a passive, benign background and in fact, serves as a segue to an interrogation of veracity, photographic or otherwise.

Goodwin will deliver a talk entitled “Beginning the End: Picturing the Anthropocene” at 7 p.m. on Jan. 7. On Jan. 21 Goodwin will be joined by Justin BAker in conversation at 5 p.m. with a closing reception from 6-8 p.m. Both events take place at LABspace, located at 2642 NY-23, Hillsdale NY.