I started totally crushin’ on the work of artist Kota Ezawa after I saw it in the 2008 “Photography on Photography” exhibition at the Met. His slideshow History of Photography Remix is a series of notable still photographs re-rendered by precise tracings.
The lunar view is a great example of what I find really charming about these tracings – the absence of shadings and gradients transform the ultra-magnificence of the original into something much smaller and milder. I find this image hilarious – the Earth looks like a piece of penny candy.
I’d known for a while that Ezawa had used similar processes with video material, but these pieces were hard to see without being at a gallery or screening until now. Ubuweb.com has posted two-minute excerpts of four of Ezawa’s video pieces (U B U W E B – Film & Video: Kota Ezawa). Footage from moments in art and political history (The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, The OJ Simpson Trial, the assassination of JFK) are subjected to the tracing technique, and much of the material is quite powerful. The objective regard of the tracings makes the human gestures all the more poignant – by removing shadows and depth, even the most nuanced movements speak. The way he renders Susan Sontag’s hair flips is really thrilling, and the footage of the JFK assassination is newly chilling in the silence and calm objectivity of the animation.