Spurred on by the anti-war protests and fueled by the increased presence of the print and electronic media in daily life, art photography came into its own in the 1960's and early 1970's. At the time it seemed that nearly every college student carried camera and universities and alternative educational centers rushed to expand or develop degree programs in photography.
In retrospect it is odd that during a period of intense political activism and social consciousness photographers produced more self reflective images while in the political doldrums of the 1980's photographers are producing work that is often imploded with savage political critiques and a passionate disregard for the powers that be.
The awareness of the political power of the photograph has been a long time in coming. For post-modernists it has provided a philosophical base to justify the medium while for others this new mode of thinking about the uses of photography is cause for endless aggravation. Such is the state of affairs that one writer recently promised to kneel down and profess that she accepted post-modernism if everyone would just stop talking about it all the time.
Rick Hock began his involvement with photography in the expressive turbulence of the 60's and nurtured his interests at the Visual Studies Workshop, in Rochester, NY , an organization at the epicenter of photographic expression and experimentation. Following the lead of many of his contemporaries and indebted to the possibilities mapped out by the pioneers of art photography, he picked up an 8x10 view camera and turned it toward the landscape. As the 1980's arrived Hock decided that he had reached the limits of what he could contribute to landscape photography and stopped taking his view camera outdoors.
His job at the George Eastman House put him in daily contact with hundreds of photographs made in varying styles and for a myriad of different purposes. The visual overload he experienced at the Eastman House along with the intellectual and conceptual underpinnings that surfaced in his previous work lead him to his most recent work. During his residency at Light Work from March 1-30, 1988 he continued to develop his unique and dramatic change in styles.
In his new work he re photographs archetypal images on Polaroid film and transfers the wet paper negative produced by the process onto heavy printing paper in a grid pattern. The combination of eerie colors and fractured tonal resolution that this uncommon process produces, along with his selection of images culled from the popular press, comic strips and television, reveals a devilish mind and a poignant sense of humor. Like a Rorschach test left to the imagination, he wisely chooses to impart ambiguity without being obtuse and to provide direction without being obvious. Hock has managed to combine his respect for the process of photography and his desire to comprehend our media saturated world by producing images that allow one to wrestle on equal footing with the other.
Jeffrey Hoone (c)1988