No Cameras: Computer-manipulated photography is still in its primitive stages, aesthetically speaking. Too often, a digital artist's tedious Photoshop shenanigans are all that's really on display. The strength of Jan Camp's beguiling images lies in the factthat she never mistakes desk-top wizardry for things that are truly wondrous in and of themselves.
Whimsical and seductive, Camp's photographs of flowers, grocery store produce and household curios look like daydreams emerging from the velvety edges of the mind. Floating somewhere in between collage and assemblage, digital art and Magic Realism, these surreal C-prints (each mounted on aluminum) at Sherry Frumkin Gallery are made entirely without the use of a camera or darkroom.
Although computer-manipulated photographs can feel airless and forced, Camp nimbly sidesteps these pitfalls by imbuing her still-life compositions with a genuine sense of wonder and enchantment. A shower of red-tipped thumbtacks cascades from a pair of roses like petals--or thorns; a trio of mauve-, gold- and rose-hued prickly pears resemble fish caught in a purple net; and, an ornate pair of nail scissors, shaped like a delicate silver bird, appears to fly above a nest of ripe fruit leaping eagerly toward their "mother's" beak.
Keeping her eyes peeled for the odd visual pun or poetic juxtaposition, Camp lays an assortment of fruit, flowers, nuts and bolts, paintbrushes, feathers, jewelry and other odds and ends on top of a computer scanner. This bed of light gives them a preternatural lucidity, as if each object were lit from within. Camp then painstakingly adjusts the object's size and color tones on her computer screen. Suspended like jewels against velutinous black backgrounds, Camp's perishable keepsakes and desk-drawer ephemera remind us that everyday totems--virtual or otherwise--provide some of the richest and most evocative aesthetic material.
* Sherry Frumkin Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 453-1850, through July 3. Closed Sundays and Mondays.