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ABSTRACT ENCOUNTERS

 

Shaun Pryszlak masterfully uses the blur effect to draw a comparison between photography and music in the way that, as he remarks, ‘photography like music is all about how you use your tools and instruments.  You can either play it straight or you can mess with it’. Presenting five out-of-focus photographs of an electric guitar, seamlessly arranged together, one next to the other in one final image, he quietly suggests that he can subvert the way the guitar looks as easily as the way it originally sounds. His images function as metaphors for music, for which he writes that they stand as ‘visual equivalents of plugging it into an infinite delay pedal, propping it up against the amplifier and heading to the bar’.


In this sense, he presents us with an Equivalent. Minor White in his 1963 essay Equivalence: The Perennial Trend wrote that ‘when a photographer presents us with what to him is an Equivalent, he is telling us in effect that this is his metaphor of a feeling about something, which is not for the subject he photographed, but for something else’.


Pryszlak uses photography in its reductive, non-representational form, not to document the instrument of guitar but to express his thoughts that the music produced by the guitar can correspond to him. The only difference in Pryszlak’s case is that he sees his photographs as an equivalent not for the music that the electric guitar is originally associated with, but for the sounds and music it can potentially play and produce by subverting its programme of operation.


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