Michelle GIVEN

"The Distance From Oneself"

Wednesday Aug. 4, 2010 - Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010

19x60inches, edition of 5, 6x26inches, edition of 5, with Mechelle Given's signature and edition notations                                      

Copyright (c) Michelle Given All Rights Reserved

          As an artist I am concerned with defining the distance between things— the distance from oneself, from one’s environment, from other people.  The Distance From Oneself is a project employing pinhole photography combined with digital imaging that directly addresses the idea that as humans, we function at a certain distance from the physical world.  While our bodies are situated in a specific locations and time, our minds are free to wander away from that place— forward and backward in time, or laterally elsewhere.  Questions that I am interested in include:  Can a photograph be a visual manifestation of longing and separation when referencing the present and the future?  Can a photograph speak about the distance one is from oneself— where one is physically and the place one would rather be?  How much of one’s life is a third person experience, cheating oneself of the present?  Is it possible to be nostalgic for the present or even the future?  This work is a visual exploration of uncertainty and the human condition, mapping the disconnect between psychological and physiological experience.

          Many photographers examine nostalgia in the traditional sense, as a desire to return to or capture the essence of a former time and place.  In contrast, my investigation of nostalgia is not for something that is past but for the ever-illusive present and the future that is racing to replace it.  In this body of work I use a homemade pinhole camera to make exposures of my surroundings.  The pinhole camera’s characteristic soft focus and wide angle of view distort space, warping and pulling it in such a way as to put more distance between photographer and place, the audience and subject.  From there I digitally manipulate the images, sometimes combining environments to exaggerate this gap.  In doing so I remove a solid point of visual reference with the intention of causing confusion and disorientation as a way to draw attention to the mental dislocation from physical experience.  The process of combining old and new technology parallels the conceptual concerns of the project.  Pinhole photography captures a romantic impression of a scene rather than an inventory of details.  With contemporary subject matter and digital manipulation I am able to undermine some of the pinhole camera’s associations/ connotations and create tension by pushing the amount of information I can pack into a pinhole image while still retaining certain distinguishing qualities.

Michelle Given


As an only child in Columbus, Ohio, Michelle Given entertained herself by drawing, painting, hiding her parents’ cigarette and riding the neighbor’s dog.  She earned a Bachelors of Art in creative writing and a second in studio art with a concentration in photography from Otterbein College.  In 2008, she graduated from Indiana University with a Masters of Fine Art in Photography.  Recently, Given accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Photography at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky.

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