Text over Larry Clark

Above: A Larry Clark photo with text superimposed. Credit: Oscopic.

Write On Top

Recently, the ever-improving functionality of the smartphone has made it very easy to add text or drawn marks over the top of a photo. In photo-history there have been a few photographers who have added text and marks over the top of their photos. Robert Frank's photo "Sick of Goodbys" comes to mind (that text is actually written on a mirror). And Man Ray's image of a woman's back with the F-holes of a cello added. There is Richter's group of Overpainted Photos. Baldessari is really the master of adding imagery over a photo-image. (Kelley Walker is a less precise and punkier Baldessari.) But, overall, through the canon of twentieth-century photography it has been pretty unusual for a photographer to superimpose text or paint over their photos.

If it is becoming easier to do superimposing, it will be fascinating to see if the new phone functionality will precipitate any new approaches to art photography in which the integrity of the photo's window-like picture-plane will be more regularly interrupted and disrupted (perhaps even, subverted) than ever before.

(11 September 2018)