Todd McDonald

My current body of work mutated out of an investigation of how building construction related to image construction. During the course of my research I became increasingly aware of how large-scale contemporary architectural structures function as totemic icons for corporate growth. In terms of visual impact, these structures are the most conspicuous manifestations of rampant consumerism. In this time of war we are confronted on a daily basis with images of destruction. Images of buildings being destroyed permeate the collective consciousness. It seems that our desire for permanence cannot withstand the larger forces of nature or even humanities varied desires.

As an image-maker, I search for a visual rhetoric that displays the ebb and flow of our building up and tearing down. Through image choice and formal variation I construct destabilized structures that could imply expansion or contraction. Many of these images find a precise moment when structure and chaos are tenuously balanced. At the core of my research, I investigate the visual structure of rapid expansion. At times, it is not hard to draw parallel comparisons to other growth patterns. I find it strangely compelling that a grand oak tree, in its quiet state of seeming permanence, might occupy a similar volume as that of a violent explosion. Many of my images find ambiguous locations that could exist somewhere between tree, building or explosion.

Historically, the language of abstraction functioned as a mode of simplification or reduction. Often, modes of abstraction were linked to theories of progress and utopian ideals. Although aspects of my work use abstraction, the larger impact is of excessive accumulation. As the structures I depict waver between tumor-like growths and grid-like perfection there is a frustration of what might constitute a utopia. On both sides of this polemic one might find moral, intellectual or emotional stability. The resulting metaphor is one that accommodates the complex, and often conflicted, nature of humanity.


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