Jessica Eaton’s photography is impressive to me purely in a technical aspect: the way she is able to create her imagery using only large format film (was it 4×5?) and darkroom techniques, without any digital aid, is an awesome achievement. The way she applies her understanding of scientific and mathematical knowledge to her work, like color and string theory, is something to applaud. It is quite interesting (at least to me) to see an artist use a fascination with science and math to create art. To me, these two worlds are opposites: on one side, science and mathematics are about cold, hard facts with no wiggle room for anything, and on the other, art is a form of creative expression that is all about how we interpret the world, rather than just facts about how and why things are. I do not have a mathematical or scientific brain at all; I’m purely on the other side. Eaton’s attention to how these theories and facts work, and her execution of creating visual versions of them, is something that I think would be very difficult to pull off. I have the highest respect for her different knowledge and technical skill.
That being said, Eaton’s work does not engage me visually. It’s too abstract for me, too experimental looking…and I usually like abstract art. However, the abstraction I like is usually found in paintings or sculptures. The photography I admire most are photographs of the outside world and the impact people have on it, not experiments with light and color. The cube series (cfaal) and the other shapes/color wheel combinations were too “scientific” looking to me. As I said, I very much admire the mastery of the techniques used to create these images…I just personally don’t find them appealing. I don’t understand any of it.
However, when Eaton reviewed my work last Wednesday, she had very helpful input. I can see that her experience isn’t just limited to the style of work I saw. As a person, she is very likable. I just can’t say the same about her work.