Welling avoids cliche

Similarly in Paris (1996), Welling avoids cliche by employing atypical lighting in this photo comprising a table lamp with a large, spherical glass shade and an ornate base. In the background part of the word, “musique” is printed, or at least one assumes this is the word, as only “usiq” is visible. Aside from the title, in the image itself, it is only the French connotation of that word and the touch of old world, decorative flourish on the lamp base that divulges the photo’s Parisian location. However, nothing else is needed to place it, as the romanticism associated with Parisian culture compels the viewer’s perceptual completion of the picture. On the other hand, this picture, lit by unflattering light – a tonal equivalent of beige – deliberately avoids a direct representation of a tired cultural stereotype.

Another photo, Ravenstein (1994), also signifies old-world beauty, and as a result, subtly signifies European art history through a complex but orderly abstract configuration of lights on the ceiling of a presumably grand European train station which, outside of this fixture, is unpictured. Appearing like scores of computer keys, the station’s lights, depicted mechanically and systematically, make architectural splendour appear as ordinary as an IkeaTM lamp.

Further deconstructing notions of romance and culture, Ground Floor Studio (1994) focuses on a shabby door at the end of a hallway with a creaky staircase to the side of it. While the photo’s title refers to the depicted space as a studio, this space is actually a factory. The pared-down quality of the depicted architecture undergoes a paradigm shift from the tortured artist’s studio to industrial decay, as well as to a Warhol-borrowed metaphor for mass reproduction. Light in the form of a shadeless, bare light bulb, a symbol of either blight or poverachic, is the centre of Welling’s illusion. The dual meanings the light bulb connotes are the result of photography’s ability to manipulate the Real by posing as it.

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