Lucinda Devlin
Lobby, Eastern Econo Inn, Dewitt, NY, 1978

Dimensions
10.625 in H x 10.75 in W
Catalogue Number
1978.003
Current Location
1114-1C.44

About the Artist

Lucinda Devlin

Born1947
BirthplaceAnn Arbor, MI
GenderFemale
CitizenshipUnited States
Cultural HeritageEuropean-American

Essays

PLEASURE GROUND, PHOTOGRAPHS BY LUCINDA DEVLIN AND VIDEO TAPES BY JOHN ORENTLICHER

'Pleasure Ground' exists as an ongoing body of work concerned with the often intangible concepts of self-gratification. Pleasure can be a state of the senses, but more often it is a state of mind, an experience sometimes vicarious, sometimes unattainable, and sometimes fraught with anxiety. Whether in static or time-based presentation, the information is conceptualized in the mental fantasy of the viewer as he or she imagines the situation or activity based on what we have provided.

The images seem to be unequivocal and therefore appear credible to the viewer, but these are, in fact, highly subjective and paradoxical points of view. The photographs are detailed views of interior environments, which have been constructed for the purpose of pleasure. It is not necessary to see the activity associated with the environment; rather, it is implied or imagined by the viewer. The video tape adds an aural dimension as counterpoint to the visual information presented in the static and time-based images which further expands the implied activities within the captured environments. This work should not be considered a definitive statement. Pleasure exists on many levels and must be personally defined. It is, rather, an eclectic view of some aspects of the pursuit of pleasure.

Lucinda Devlin and John Orentlicher ©1985

This project was made possible with a Sponsored Project Grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, under the auspices of Light Work.

Lucinda Devlin

The Omega Suites

September 1 – October 23, 1992

Lucinda Devlin’s photographs are like a whispered story that changes as it is passed along in a circle of strangers. Her personal photographic interpretations of contemporary interiors tell unique stories that only resemble the original locations she visits with her camera.

Since the mid 1970s Devlin has been looking inside America recording the landscape that lies behind closed doors. In a series titled Pleasure Ground she photographed the interiors of bars, health spas, hotels and honeymoon hide-a-ways. Like the patrons of the establishments she was recording, Devlin was looking to capture an extraordinary experience. 

If you visited the places that Devlin has photographed you might recognize certain objects and reference points, but rarely would you see the place from the same point of view she creates with her camera. Pure optical vision conforms to a fixed horizontal perception and our brain instantly compensates for shifting light balances giving us a solid and even path to navigate efficiently. Devlin, however expands our normal sense of vision by using a wide angle lens and color film that only correctly responds to one type of light source. Employing these techniques she is able to create fields of color invisible to the naked eye and compress perspective to highlight particular objects or aspects of interest within each room. 

Devlin continued to refine these photographic techniques. Her investigations into how we live our lives gradually led Devlin to explore the most harrowing and descriptive rooms in America – death chambers where legal executions are carried out. 

As in her previous work, Devlin uses a square format. In The Omega Suites, the square becomes the visual foil to conventional interior architecture that almost always follows rectangular vertical and horizontal planes. Like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, Devlin’s choice of the square format throws our visual perception off balance while her subject challenges our moral equilibrium. 

Devlin has photographed death chambers in 20 states since she began the project in 1991. Only California and Florida have turned down her formal requests. The administrators at most facilities have been gracious in their accommodations, one even offered to send her photographs they made of their electric chair to save her the time and trouble. 

Devlin is after more than a visual record of a room. Her photographs create an atmosphere that breathes with the presence of the condemned, their victims and their executioners, even though no individuals appear within the frame. In The Omega Suites, electric chairs and gas chambers stand silent under a cool illumination of artificial light. In their silence, Devlin’s photographs implore us to consider the stark realities of exchanging lives destroyed by passion and violence with lives grotesquely ended in vindication for their crimes.

Jeffrey Hoone

Director, Light Work