Scott McFarland's vaguely surreal concoctions a cause for wonder

Scott McFarland's digital manipulations invite contemplation of impossibility of his works at Regen Projects

In his latest exhibition at Regen Projects, Canadian artist Scott McFarland pulls back the curtain — if only a little bit — on his digitally manipulated, always slightly surreal photographs.

Whereas earlier works seamlessly combined elements from multiple exposures in a single weirdly realistic image, this show pairs separate shots of the same places, inviting the viewer to make comparisons and contemplate the impossibility of McFarland’s concoctions.

Most obvious in this regard is “Spirea Prunifolia, Bridal Wreath With Effects of Sunlight,” which presents two images of a large bush overflowing with white flowers. On the left is a large still image, mounted in a black-framed light box so that it glows like a TV screen. On the right is a smaller video, shown on a flat screen so that it looks like a moving photograph. You’d never confuse one for the other, but there’s just enough cognitive dissonance to surprise.

However, “Spirea Prunifolia” comes across as a one-liner compared with the complexities at work in McFarland’s juxtapositions of printed images, which are always just similar enough to make you look twice.

In a pair of images taken in the same corner of the New Orleans restaurant Galatoires, McFarland contrasts black and white with color, and two different compositions, each with different figures. Still, the framing is the same, and a plate of chicken appears in exactly the same spot. It’s just enough to make you wonder if you’ve gone through the looking glass.

Regen Projects, 6750 Santa Monica Blvd., (310) 276-5424, through Aug. 16. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

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