Penelope Umbrico

Penelope Umbrico

Work from the series TVs, Office / Still Lives (as Photocopies), and Mirrors.

Umbrico is a photographer/curator of sorts who sources home improvement catalogues/websites  as  fodder for cultural/conceptual commentary. Her website is full of great projects,  that only  afraction of are represented here. Some others that I didn’t have the space to publish are: Classic Still Lives, Pets and Babies, Instances of Books as Pedestals and the awesome video, Credits.

Statements in order of project listing:

“TVs are taken from televisions in idealized room suites in home-improvement magazines and catalogs. I isolated the entire blank television screen, with its muted reflection, and digitally skewed it back into flat perspective to face the viewer. With their muted reflection, the resulting blank screens refuse to fully reveal the reflected spaces behind the viewer, but neither do they express the (questionably) seductive media that we are accustomed to viewing there. Instead, the surface expresses a kind of anonymous darkness in which one struggles to distinguish one thing from another.”

“‘Mirrors’ were taken directly from mail-order catalogs and brochures displaying idealized room suites. I scanned the mirrors, isolating them from their surroundings, and digitally skewed them back into a flat perspective, to bring them into the space of the viewer. I have enlarged the images to the dimensions of the actual size of the mirror being sold in the catalog. The Mirrors are then mounted face forward to non-glare laser-cut plexi-glass and hung on the wall as a real mirror would. While the mirrors in these catalogs serve to locate the viewer within the space by reflecting what would be behind him/her, all the seductive trappings arranged in mirror’s reflection become surrogates for the missing reflection of the viewer – the viewer witnesses his/her own disappearance and replacement by sellable objects.”

“‘Office / Still Lives (as Photocopies)’ are a suite of 16, 8” x 10” images taken from an office supply catalog advertising office cubicles. I scanned the catalog images with special attention to the arrangement of objects and photographs on the desks in the cubicles. I then applied the ‘photocopy’ filter in Photoshop to create a fake photocopy document of the fake office environment. The effort to humanize the otherwise dry, cold, emptiness of the represented workspace is played out in the fictional family photographs and plastic plants. The mute computer props punctuate my gridded arrangement, ominously refusing to communicate anything.”

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