Marten Elder: Polychromatic Adaptations

November 2nd - December 7th, 2019

Tif Sigfrids is pleased to present Polychromatic Adaptations, a solo exhibition of photography by Marten Elder. The exhibition will open on November 2nd, with a reception from 4-6 PM and will remain on view through December 7th.

For his second solo exhibition at the gallery, Elder presents six new photographs. These photographs, like most photographs, are the result of two separate processes; the capturing of information and the processing of that information. The capturing of information is largely similar to the way most photographic information is captured. Where they deviate drastically is in the latter of the two processes. Conventional digital photographic processing attempts to replicate the look of traditional film emulsion, which itself was an attempt to replicate some idea of human vision. In Elder’s pictures we see a reimagination of the way in which photography can represent reality. By making use of the excess color information that the digital camera sensor records, Elder renders subtle color relationships that an untrained eye may not have noticed and maps them across the gamut of the photograph’s color space.

The show’s title, Polychromatic Adaptations, is an artificial expansion on the natural phenomenon of chromatic adaptation, which is the human visual system’s ability to adjust to changes in illumination in order to preserve the appearance of colors. When this sort of correction is made by a camera it is referred to as white balance. Elder has previously used this method to extract subtle color relationships in relatively monochromatic subject matter. In these new photographs that correction is being made multiple times to each exposure in different narrow areas of the color space so that subjects with a wider variety of disparate colors may be photographed and rendered in this new way. Each composition is also photographed dozens of times for focus to maximize the amount of information gathered and to increase the effect of photographic spatial compression. This is similar to what our brains do as we look around, combining multiple images into a seamed reality. What, at times, may appear unnatural is real information recorded from the world. Like an investigative journalist or a laboratory scientist, Elder utilizes the camera to reveal undiscovered truths.

Marten Elder (b. 1986) lives and works in Los Angeles. He received his MFA from UCLA in 2013. His work has been reviewed in the Los Angeles Times and was featured in the book Photography is Magic by Charlotte Cotton. Recent exhibitions include Site Unseen, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC; Dengue Fever, Arturo Bandini / Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, TX and the solo exhibition Retinex at Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC. Marten’s work is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of art.