“Landscape” and “portrait” are genres of painting, or orientations of a digital camera that optimize the organization of data in image files. The terms’ mashup in the title of Lisa Oppenheim’s series “Landscape Portraits” (2016) suggests a confusion of perspective, and the works unmoor the viewer from the picture plane’s spatial conventions. The cold, monochromatic abstractions seem to have accrued organically in concentric rings. They might suggest topographic maps but there’s no sure sense of height or depth—positive and negative space blur in softly modulated grays. Oppenheim made the works by laying thin slices of wood—which might be thought of as a kind of unprocessed paper—on photosensitive sheets, letting light saturate the surfaces through the grain of the wood.
In another series, displayed in Tanya Bonakdar’s upstairs galleries, Oppenheim similarly studies the nature of photography and its digital discontents through older, adjacent techniques. The series “Jacquard Weaves,” 2016, consists of tapestries produced on a Jacquard loom, using punch cards based on photographs of the textile collection of Seth Siegelaub—the curator and publisher known for his innovative means of displaying and disseminating Conceptual art. The Jacquard loom is considered a predecessor to the computer; the weft’s position above or below the warp anticipated the zero-one duality of binary code. But Oppenheim’s textiles are hung to show the underside, where threads come loose in wild, mossy tufts. An image is more than the code that makes it visible. Its effects protrude from the substrate and touch the world. —Brian Droitcour
Pictured: Lisa Oppenheim: Jacquard Weave (SST 211a/SST 471), 2015, jacquard woven cotton, mohair and linen textile in wood frames, 69¾ by 113¾ inches overall. Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar, New York. Photo Brett Moen.