Sublime Photography for the New Year
Jerry Saltz once described Julianne Swartz as “the anti-Serra,” articulating the “ebb and flow of life” through her ephemeral installations. Light is Swartz’s material of choice because, despite being easily taken for granted, “when contemplated, it becomes a sense-provoking opportunity for thought,” she explains. She often relies on technology, both existing and self-made; many of her works comprise “participatory scopes” that alter viewers’ perceptions by reflecting and refracting the surrounding space; other series of photographs address light, reflection, and ephemerality. Swartz also works with sound, which, like light, “instills presence without physicality,” she says. Her installation on the High Line Park in New York, Digital Empathy (2011-12), filled visitor’s longings for interpersonal connections and the semblance of friendship. At elevators, drinking fountains, and restrooms throughout the park, computer-generated voices recited poetry, sang love songs, and reminded visitors not to lick the fountains.
American, b. 1967, Phoenix, Arizona, based in Kingston, New York