Alexis Marie: Continuing on in the InFocus Alumni photography blog series, I am pleased to introduce Gerry Dotto. Taking the everyday and making it interesting is quite a feat. I hope you enjoy Gerry’s images and the way he expounds on them.
On a recent trip to Boston, I visited the Museum of Fine Arts to see an exhibition of works by two historically prominent photographers: Herb Ritts and Gordon Parks. It was a great show, and the impact of seeing iconic photos up close and in person really left an impression. This experience truly underscores the importance of getting one’s photographs printed and, if the occasion arises, put on display. It’s one thing to look at a digital image on the screen, but it’s no comparison to a well-printed photograph that allows you to truly appreciate the tone, the light and the detail.
I recently had the opportunity to participate in the InFocus Edmonton exhibition, where I showed a photo from a series I’ve been developing called “Flow of Traffic Theory.” My work is conceptual in nature and is based on exploring our interaction with everyday forms of visual communication. This series originated from my fascination with the simplicity and universality of the imagery used on road signs. Specifically, signs whose words and symbols have become obscured or distorted in some way.
Over the course of the last several years, I’ve kept a keen eye out for road signs that have been damaged, run over, victims of adverse weather or compromised by construction. The interesting thing is that these signs are generally overlooked by drivers—no need to look at a sign that can’t be read. The signs, in effect, become “invisible.” The value of these signs, relative to the message they once carried, has been lost. They now take on an aesthetic value of their own, either in their appearance, the reinterpretation of their message or based on the context of their physical location. The images in this series set out to reveal the relative beauty of these objects that have lost their inherent value.
During the run of the InFocus Edmonton exhibition, I met a few photographers whose work I was familiar with but hadn’t had the occasion to meet yet. Seeing my work in relation to theirs, as well as other photos in the show, fostered some new perspectives on how I approached my own picture making. I realized that many of my photos of road signs were taking on human characteristics, in the sense that I was portraying them like they were portraits of people—people wearing masks. What are they hiding? Is it about insecurity? A secret identity? Is it a game? In the end, these photos offer more questions than answers.
Ultimately, photography is a medium about “showing” what’s in our world and, in theory, it captures “truth.” The photographic print remains the best medium for revealing the photographer’s vision. Personally, I benefitted from this exhibition experience when deeper aspects of my own work were revealed to me. While I set out to show the world my vision, I’m hiding from it, too. You can see more of my work on my website, gerrydotto.com, or contact me at [email protected]