Critic’s Choice: In Santa Monica, photography that likes to break the rules

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Ever since the earliest photographic technologies, bushwhackers have willfully deviated from marked trails, but never, it seems, have more renegades tweaked convention than in the past decade or two. Digital processes have dematerialized photography, and artists have taken it upon themselves to rematerialize it in inventive, idiosyncratic ways.

“Her First Meteorite: Volume 2,” at Rose Gallery in Santa Monica, presents a largely captivating selection of such work by seven artists. Volume 1 of the show centered on photographic collage, and collage resurfaces here too. Ken Graves, represented by a mini-survey of works from 1976 to 2015, creates piquant tableaux from spliced magazine pictures and old medical journal illustrations. Many of the absorbing little scenes touch on a sense of rightness having to do with the body, its posture and strength, and by extension, a broader social propriety.

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Among the other intriguing inclusions are Dirk Braeckman’s snippets of 1970s erotica printed on glossy blueprint paper. In each of the 32 sheets in the series, a dark, shadowy patch compromises the fragmented image’s legibility. Page after page, they read like so many suppressed memories, or coyly redacted documents.

Melinda Gibson and Thomas Sauvin’s “Lunar Caustic” images are the oddly urgent consequence of an act of rescue followed by an act of violation. The prints, made from a salvaged archive of Chinese vernacular negatives, have been bathed in acid, distorting their hues and tones, freckling the surfaces with rusty spots. The records have been preserved, only to be handed over to the forces of entropy.

Rose Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 264-8440, through Feb. 13. Closed Sunday and Monday.