Issue 4 of SOUTHERN EXPOSURE : Vir Heroicus Sublimis ("Man, Heroic and Sublime")is a visual ode to the pioneers of color field painting and hard edged abstraction. Barnett Newman, who's famous work this issue is named after, often referenced the irrelevance of old value systems of beauty in a nuclear age capable of indescribable destruction. The only sublime experience modern humanity could depict in art, was the personal, or the phenomenological. In his painting he attempts to envelope the viewers field of view in rich unadorned color. A massive red canvas who's suggested viewing distance was less than a couple feet from the painted surface. In this scenario he felt that the viewer would have an "encounter" with the color, free of any social moorings.
The images of this issue draw inspiration from Newman and other notable pioneers of abstraction such as Kenneth Noland, Mark Rothko, and others. An element employed in all of the selected photography is that darkness and light act as a physical presence. In the act of creating the images, the models in the darkened studio experience light is a substance that blindingly corporeal when present. Conversely, in darkness their vision returns and they are able to see their surroundings. The play back and forth between these states is an experience I envision alludes to a phenomenological experience I believe Newman would find familiar to his "encounter" with the painted surface. Though there is the added layer that the light creates a physical split between the public and the personal; with the passive eye of the camera delineating what's seen and unseen, personal and public. And in an age where the divisions between the two social realms ever eroding, I feel Newman would believe that is arts latest frontier.