Dark Chamber Music

essay by A.D. Coleman from LAST DREAM:

(excerpt) The philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn famously proposed that what he called a paradigm—a core idea or theory in science a provocative and fruitful thought experiments—attracts practitioners in part because it suggests a progressive series of exciting experiments to be undertaken, and that, as those experiments play themselves out and run their course, new ideas emerge that pull new generations of investigators to them and away from the original model. He called that destabilized, interim phase of inquiry paradigm shift. During it, he said, some practitioners would inevitably do what scientists call, derogatorily, "saving the appearances"—desperately trying to shore up the old theory and practice by ignoring or explaining away its obvious limitations. Others would simply jump ship and seek a brand–new paradigm. And a few would stand between those two poles, looking for the links between an earlier way of thinking and working and whatever might evolve from them that could better serve the present and the future. Brad Cole strikes me as a photographer of the last-named kind.

Cole, who has turned a number of his images into slide projections for installations of his work, and has made one group of them into a film, also composes music, which serves as the auditory environment in his installations and as soundtracks for his films. So this blend of the musical, the filmic and the photographic comes naturally and organically out of the work, rather than being arbitrarily imposed on it. Individually, these photographs stand on their own as finely seen and superbly rendered single images. Organized into this sequence's larger form, their interplay and resonances make them into something else, something more; and, by doing so, Cole pushes the envelope of the traditions he comes out of and still clearly loves.

Copyright © A.D. Coleman
Staten Island, New York
March l997

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