July, Last Year

I could take this opportunity to clarify some themes relevant to Daniel Gordon's work and to this particular project, titled "Thirty-One Days." One possible thread I could follow is art historical. I could try and situate the work in relationship to pertinent moments in art's past. I would start with Dada photomontage, then move on to the Pop Art object, then onto certain strategies of appropriation that might attempt to take a critical position in relation to the images appropriated. We could follow this historical thread to the present and contextualize the work against the backdrop of the artist's present day colleagues whose work might fit under the moniker of set-up photography.

None of this historicizing would be complete without a recourse to another way of looking at Gordon's artworks, through the lens of two particular and continuously evolving technologies: photography and the Internet. Consider photography and its time freeze effect, the effects of lighting, and the effects of framing, of cutting the object photographed away from both time and space. Consider the Internet and its vast, shifting storehouse of images -- a storehouse that is seemingly located nowhere but accessible from anywhere -- digital, immaterial signifiers of commodities that can be added to the shopping cart or face shots of BFF's that can be dragged to the desktop. By way of the simple act of printing the images, Gordon shifts the immaterial into the realm of the material. The present net-to-print publication mirrors the movement from online to paper, and deftly illustrates Gordon's process, inviting any user to complete the work by printing their own copy of the book.

In Gordon's work, the net-based non-stuff is substantiated and assembled into something new that exceeds the sum of its glued together parts, glued together with a photographic click, brought into imagistic life like a monster or a mask. Indeed, the monstrous emerges as a particularly strong theme in the series. I want to underscore this theme because of the role it plays in culture generally. The monster portends a particular kind of embodiment that is symptomatic of life on the edge, life on the shifting border that separates the known from the unknown. The monster's existence is liminal, between places, between human and non-human, between the wounded and the whole, separated from the non-monstrous by a thin skin that Gordon makes visible.

I could take this opportunity to define these concepts in relation to Gordon's work, but ultimately, the work's power lies in its ability to bring together the historical, technological, and theoretical. Gordon's "Thirty-One Days" is far more than a conceptual endeavor. The works, which spring from word searches as varied as "late afternoon" and "conch shell," range from the ineffable to the concrete. In this way, the starting point of Gordon's artworks is not the storehouse of images, but instead, the framework of language. And in this way, the works carry the immediacy of a daybook, marking the very point where one catches the moment as it is happening. This immediacy is communicated by way of a powerful visual experience. Each photograph balances the careful application of technique with the insouciance of playful exploration. While carefully constructed, they reveal an intimacy that brings the stock images into a new, fresh, and unexpected field. The fact that the works capture something impermanent and finite underscores the vulnerability and precarious nature of these constructions. At the same time, each work literally grabs the eye. This series wittily re-imagines the daybook, an ever-evolving record of the artist's ability to wrestle with the face of the world. Everyday in July, last year.

—Photios Giovanis