writings on photography & other media
Don Snyder
Beyond the Surface


Beyond the Surface
Photographs by Irma Eibich

The history of color photography can be considered as a long process of trial and error, punctuated at intervals by the invention of new materials which have made possible new ways of seeing and recording. In recent years one of the most significant advances in color has occurred in the realm of the instant image; Polaroid SX-70 film in particular, with its unique characteristics, has offered a genuinely new creative outlet for many contemporary photographers. This volume of photographs by Irma Eibich shows to good advantage what can be accomplished with this remarkable photographic system.

The flower still lifes that follow are brilliantly alive with color, creating a vibrant impression from the first viewing. The sense of balance and proportion conveyed by the square format contrasts pleasingly with the variety of formal approaches and color relationships displayed within the frame, and the sheer visual energy of the photographs is carefully modulated by the skillful use of a classic compositional reference. The images are thus formally resolved, in the traditional sense of still life, and yet highly abstracted, almost visionary, in their free use of contrasting visual elements.

The bold use of color as a carrier of expressive meaning adds to the abstract and imaginative aspects of this work. Color is used to record, to reveal, to express, and also to transform both the flowers and the space in which they exist. The transformation is made complete by the photographer's re-working of the images, using heat and pressure to modify the photograph while the emulsion is still capable of being manipulated.

Because these are photographs, we accept and interpret them as real representations of what was before the camera; but because they are realized through a transformative process, they also present a new reality, apart from the element of time always associated with a literal rendition. The pictures offer themselves for extended contemplation, creating their own sense of time and space, using photographic means as a point of departure for the realization of an inner vision. What is explored through this vision is universal, connecting the natural world with the human imagination, the camera's recording capacity with the artist's expressive concerns, and the viewer's perceptual responses with an evocative series of dream-like, yet absolutely real, images.


2012 The Present: We Will Worry About Tomorrow, Tomorrow
2011 Album, Archive and Audience
2011 Attention: Light!
2011 300 Days of Indulgence
2011 In the Playroom
2009 Together but Elsewhere: Considering the Photograph
2008 Storyteller: Waiting for Words
2006 Images of Global Culture: The Black Star Collection
2006 Imagining Places: The Destruction of Space
2006 Toronto/Montreal: The Proliferation of Screens
2005 Contemporary Ambrotypes
2004 Holocaust Dream
2004 Not at First Glance
2003 Everything is Going to be Alright
2003 Zsako vs Photography
2001 The Machine in the Gallery
1989 Nostalgia for an Unknown Land
1988 Beyond the Surface
1983 Solstice and Other Works
1976 Three Views of the North American Landscape