Saturday, March 9, 2013

Evan Baden & the Digital Natives

Evan Baden with his photographs, circa 2011
Milwaukee Art Museum curator Lisa Hostetler showed us Evan Baden's Illuminati series on a visit to the MAM Print Room. He'd made the work while an undergraduate at the College for Visual Studies in St. Paul (to close in June 30, 2013). We emailed Evan to arrange a visit to his studio in Minneapolis/St. Paul in June of 2011 where he showed us his provocative Technically Intimate series that we'd seen excerpts of in various glossy magazines. The walls of his small studio were covered with blow ups of his best images and he pulled out a few work prints of experiments. The Lawrence University Photography Club, lead by the dynamic Will Melnick, invited Evan to speak on his work and visit with students March 5-6, 2013. In his lecture, Evan pointed to the painstaking detail to convey his understanding of his extensive Internet research of online phenomena. His photographs ultimately critique how online experience is shaping real world relationships. He covered his resourceful technical practices too. Most memorable was adding supplemental light with three iPods to most convincingly simulate the illumination provided by the handheld electronic devices shown in Illuminati. His latest series, Under the Influence, examines how teens perform themselves and their sexuality for the camera (see below image). His 4x5 format view camera and use of color negative film heightens the intensity of such coreographed performances embellished by props and supervised by parents. The prints are titled with captions taken directly from mainstream magazines. Museums and galleries in the US and Europe have included his work in exhibitions interrogating technology and its impact. Baden ships rolled-up prints or uploads files to servers for output on location. The venue mounts the print on aluminum, exhibits then destroys it. Some prints make their way into museum collections rather than face destruction or the expense of crating and return shipping. Evan is working on an MFA at Columbia College in Chicago and lives in Oak Park while he juggles the demands of an international speaking/exhibition schedule, making work, and teaching.

"It's All About Me. I Mean You. I Mean Me." © 2012 Evan Baden, panoramic inkjet print

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