The Back Room Weekly: "1:35pm 3-19-09 San Jose" by Roger Vail

Jan 15, 2015 11:52PM

The Back Room Weekly is a weekly essay featuring gems from our back room. This communication with JAYJAY patrons has been a vital way to promote the idea that the artworks we exhibit are each one of-a-kind-objects worth being singled out and discussed out of the context of an exhibit. All these artworks present a clear picture of JAYJAY’s mission that we continue to execute; exhibiting modern and contemporary work from museum track artists; scholars really, from this region and beyond.  

This week's piece: 1:35pm 3-19-09 San Jose by Roger Vail

 Roger Vail’s series Inconspicuous Places consists of straight photographs capturing complex and mysterious reflections in glass windows.  Layer after layer, ambiguous images unfold to reveal multiple perspectives simultaneously. In a single frame, viewers experience the surface texture of the glass, objects inside a room, as well as buildings, people, and landscapes outside in the distance. Each poetic photograph induces a quiet and contemplative state of mind when piecing together their unique compositions.

 On Thursday, March 19th, 2009, Vail captured this image during his afternoon wanderings through the urban areas of San Jose. Hazy washes and dirty smears cover the surface of this muted cityscape. A large gray rectangle, marked with opaque graffiti, blocks most of the photograph, which begs the question, “What are we not supposed to see?” The feeling of censorship inspires the viewer to delve deeper and inspect every inch of the photograph looking for clues.  Sparse branches, a non-descript building, and a barely visible street is all that can be recognized. However, on the far right, there is a faint glimpse of the original scene that, for a moment, separates reality from Vail’s dream world.