John Houck


John Houck

Work from A History of Graph Paper @ On Stellar Rays.

“On Stellar Rays is pleased to announce a new exhibition of photographs by JOHN HOUCK. The exhibition celebrates a number of exciting developments at On Stellar Rays, including the gallery’s FIRST SOLO EXHIBITION with Houck, the gallery’s FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY, and the inaugural exhibition in the gallery’s NEW LOCATION at 1 Rivington Street at Bowery on the Lower East Side.

The exhibition expands upon Houck’s body of aggregate photographs, presenting still life imagery of personal objects and keepsakes intermittently spliced with Houck’s ongoing body of digitally-rendered, gridded and folded compositions. As in the aggregates, whereby Houck exploited a repetitious process influenced by his professional experience as a programmer — a feedback loop of write, compile, execute — here he applies a recursive practice of compose, photograph, print.

Houck is deeply interested in the dialectic between repetition and desire in contemporary technological culture. In recent years, Houck has pursued this enquiry beyond the studio through psychoanalytic therapy, an exercise in remembering which remains one of the only acts of daily life that eschews capitalism and is a means to disrupt photographic repetition. Houck found that affecting memories is more about activating the imagination than recalling facts and data. The necessity of imagination in the act of reminiscence has entered into Houck’s new body of work, invoked by layered puzzles and visible in the new subject matter.

The tension in Houck’s work — ranging from early construction of hobby-kit-styled model drones, to coordinates systems mapped onto landscapes, and in carefully hand-folded aggregate grids — has been the simultaneous resistance to and embrace of technology. His advanced training in programming and architecture allows for a unique position from which he undermines the tools of the trade for his own exploratory means. As a photographer, Houck departs from the monocular vision inherent to the photographic apparatus, forcing a collapse of spatial and temporal relationships within a single image. Furthermore, Houck finds creative potential in the inkjet printer, rather than the camera itself, defining his technical site of production as the split between the two.

The show’s title, A History of Graph Paper, alludes to the work of 19th century scientist Luke Howard, who pioneered the classification systems of cloud types, and who was also among the first to use coordinate paper in the sciences as a tool to measure and quantify. A History of Graph Paper addresses how we make models of our world to better understand it, and how those models become and then alter our perceptions of the world — how the tools we create in turn create us.” – Charlie Schultz for ArtSlant

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