87 Suns From Flickr - 29 Visible

by Penelope Umbrico

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Artist Statement


Suns From Flickr is a project I started in 2006 when, looking for "the most photographed" subject, I found 541,795 photographs of sunsets searching "sunset" on the photo-sharing website Flickr. At the time that seemed like a lot; today there are more than 4,786,139 hits for "sunset" on Flickr. I think it's peculiar that the sun—the quintessential life-giver, constant in our lives, symbol of enlightenment, spirituality, eternity, all things unreachable and ephemeral, omnipotent provider of optimism and vitamin D...and so ubiquitously photographed—is now subsumed to the internet, the most virtual of spaces—equally infinite, but within a closed digital circuit. For this Aperture / 20x200 project, I combined multiple "sunset" and "moonrise" photographs found on Flickr and superimposed them, respectively, in Photoshop. Each photograph is visible to a greater or lesser degree depending on the amount of opacity I give each—the titles are an indication of this: 87 Suns From Flickr - 29 Visible, and 79 Moons From Flickr - 51 Visible. The resulting aesthetic seems rooted in a history of abstract visual form (from Klee and Kandinski to Star Trek and blacklight posters), where the images move away from a reality we know towards an abstraction of that reality based on fiction and psychedelic cosmic fantasy. As reflection of the ever increasing use of web-based photo communities, my collating of found sunset and moonrise pictures results in images that are inherently reflexive of the pre-scripted collective content found there.


Penelope Umbrico


Penelope Umbrico attended Ontario College of Art in Toronto, Canada, and received her MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She has had numerous solo exhibitions at galleries including the International Center of Photography, New York; Julie Saul Gallery, New York; Bernard Toale Gallery, Boston; and PM Gallery, Toronto. Her work has been in group shows at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia; Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, New York; Massachusetts College of Art, Boston; Art in General, New York; Gallery 44, Toronto; Dazibao, Montreal; Ansel Adams Center for Photography, San Francisco; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California. Umbrico's work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the International Center of Photography and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others. She is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Artists' Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Catalogue Project Grant, an Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Photographer's Fellowship Grant and a Harvestworks Scholar Fellowship. She is also core faculty at the School of Visual Arts MFA Photography and Related Media program in NYC.

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