Hollis Frampton, Marion Faller
Two Exemplary Application of Applied Color, from series 'False Impressions', 1979

13.75 in H x 8.5 in W
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Frampton, Hollis & Faller, Marion Notes for 'By Any Other Name'

Language and image, each trespassing in the other's house, secrete disquieting disjunctions, conundrums, circularities. We are accustomed to the poetic strategy, within language, of bracketing a noun within the genus of yet another noun, which may come from an alien phylum, a foreign kingdom. Translation of that strategy into the economy of images yields artifacts....savagely grotesque, arch, silly....that seem to flee the rigors of self-reference; contradictory images, far from coalescing in a dialectical encounter, annihilate one another in a gesture that sweeps language clean of specification and seems on the point of suggesting a raw map of the preconscious work -- the material ACTION -- of language.

It is as though the formation of the meaningful had some ultimate chemical origin, 'parts of speech' combine into propositional molecules through electrovalent attraction, or, where that attraction is lacking, remain in solution as free radicals. If art has had a scientific mission, we find it in the exposure of such mechanisms, in a nonlinear display of the OCCASIONS of meaning. For meaning is not, for image or word, in things; it is in people. But there are other grounds on which to hunt those occasions besides the precincts of art.

One such artless place is the supermarket, an ocean of modularized substance where everything in sight is meant only to be consumed, destroyed, wasted, returned as quickly as possible to the domains of amorphy or thermodynamic affinity. Where everything goes down the drain, anything goes. A certain appetite of mind can, then, find more nourishment in the label on the can than in its contents, a poetic, if wayward, feast. That appetite began in photography, and grew with film. It has not found its limit. Rather, it seeks it, in a METAPRAXIS of observation, analysis, and production.

Hollis Frampton (c) 1979

About the Artist

Hollis Frampton

CitizenshipUnited States
Cultural HeritageEuropean-American
Light Work RelationshipNYSCA Conduit Grant, 1982
Light Work Gallery, 1982
Light Work Retrospective Exhibition, 1985
Robert B. Menschel Gallery, 1996 (Group Exhibition)


"Hollis Frampton is known for the broad and restless intelligence he brought to the films he made, beginning in the early '60s, until his death in 1984. In addition to being an important experimental filmmaker, he was also an accomplished photographer and writer, and in the 1970s made significant contributions to the emerging field of computer science. He is considered one of the pioneers of what has come to be termed structuralism, an influential style of experimental filmmaking that uses the basic elements of cinematic language to create works that investigate film form at the expense of traditional narrative content. Along with Michael Snow and Stan Brakhage, he is one of the major figures to emerge from the New York avant-garde film community of the 1960s.

Frampton's legendary intellect and equally legendary stubbornness announced themselves early. At the age of 15, he applied on his own volition to the prestigious Phillips Academy and was accepted on a full scholarship. Toward the end of his studies there, he was offered a scholarship to Harvard, only to have it rescinded after he failed to graduate by purposefully failing a required American history class. He spent several years at Western Reserve University in his native Ohio, studying a wide range of subjects but never attaining a degree. In 1958, he moved to New York with the intention of becoming a poet, but he soon abandoned that idea in favor of photography. His move to film in the early '60s coincided with the rise of avant-garde filmmaking in New York, centered around Jonas Mekas' Filmmakers Coop. 


ADSVMVS ABSVMVS in memory of Hollis William Frampton, Sr. 1913-1980

The author has come to suppose that he conserved the things represented herewith against the day when they were to be photographed, understanding them to harmonize with photographs then unmade according to a principle within the economy of the intellect. A photographic text and its proper pretext bear the following resemblance to one another, each is a sign of the perfective absence of the other.

In the unimaginable and ordinary case of their copresence, an object and its picture, contending for the center of the spectatorial arena, induce, out of mutual rejection, an oscillation of attention whose momentary frequency is the implicit cantus firmus of our thought. If we understand but poorly our own notion of likeness between paired entities, we understand even less the manner in which entities are like, or unlike, or may come to be like, or unlike, themselves.

This indisposition depends from a temporary defect, that we have not yet evolved to comfort in the domain of time, our supreme fiction, that parses sets of spaces in favor of successiveness. But before there were photographs, there are autographs, or happenstances whereunder bounded vacations of matter generate asexual artifacts, reproductions of themselves, necessarily incomplete, dessications, mummies, memories, traces indistinguishable from residues. Appearances such as these, found free in nature, command our attention, for they present to us, hovering at the margins of legibility, a collocation of failed instants when matter seems about to invent, in comparison and it's precedent recollection, the germ of consciousness.

Nature, or the customary behavior of matter, implies the photographic image at least as certainly as it implies ourselves. Accordingly, since they predate us, photographs may be treated scientifically. Fourteen argued plates are appended. The author acknowledges that their identifications are as probabilistic as the captions of all photographs, thereby suggesting that taxonomy is a statistical discipline.

Hollis Frampton (c)4/82 ADSVMVS ABSVMVS, a portfolio of original photographs by Hollis Frampton, was produced under the auspices of Light Work through a New York State Council On the Arts Conduit Grant. The portfolio, in an edition of fourteen, consists of fourteen signed 16'x20' Ektacolor 74 RC prints, printed from 4'x5' color negatives, and matted to archival standards on 20'x24' museum board. Each portfolio comes cased in a hand built cloth portfolio box with a printed forward and a picture description by the artist.

Train of Thought: Serial Images from the Light Work Collection


Train of Thought presented the work of five photographers from the Light Work Collection, including Hollis Frampton, Arnold Gassan, Peter Max Kandhola, Judy Natal, and Aaron Siskind. Several photographs from each artist were exhibited with the intention of providing viewers, especially students, an opportunity to follow an artist through many different stages and approaches to one idea or subject and the chance to witness and consider their creative process through multiple images.


Through the generosity of Robert and Joyce Menschel, Light Work recently received a donation of 150 photographs, including fifteen silver gelatin prints by preeminent photographer and educator Aaron Siskind (1903–1991). The images by Siskind included in this exhibition are strong examples of his interest in exploring the formal and abstracted views of urban decay—peeling paint, torn signs, and bits of graffiti. Like the other artists in this exhibition Siskind’s work documented and ordered the world he encountered around him, with a unique ability to show us the profound beauty of the ordinary. Siskind viewed the photograph as a unique physical object in its own right, in contrast to many images today that exist only virtually. He stated, “When I make a photograph I want it to be an altogether new object, complete and self-contained, whose basic condition is order —(unlike the world of events and actions whose permanent condition is change and disorder).” Train of Thought included a variety of “altogether new objects,” as each of the artists included can be said to have uniquely documented and ordered their world.


Artist Judy Natal combined images made over a ten-year period while traveling the world to create her portfolio, The Hermetic Alphabet, a series of twenty-six silver gelatin prints.

Natal used the alphabet as a structure on which she could organize and connect a series of seemingly random, ambiguous images. As the work moves us through the alphabet from A to Z, Natal investigates language, landscape, and travel.


Arnold Gassan, a widely recognized authority on photographic processes as well as the history of photography, created the series Elegy in dedication to his mentor and teacher Minor White. The rich, elegant surfaces and tonal range of Gassan’s images are created using the labor-intensive, antiquated process of photogravure. His images show familiar rural scenes of clotheslines, picket fences, landscapes, and portraits of friends and family. The exquisite care he takes in printing points to his belief that, “the photograph often leaves a residue of un-verbalized meaning.”


No Birds Do Sing in Blue Sky, a collection of eighteen unique silver gelatin prints by Peter Max Kandhola, continues his exploration of death and grief, an idea he has approached with several different photographic mediums over the years. In this series the artist scratches and distresses his negatives as a visual metaphor. His purpose for manipulating the negative is described in his statement that, “images come and go, they flicker unsolved, and time builds itself around them. We invent explanations which also remain unsolved, but we also retain the meaning of episodes in our past life, a museum of images.”


ADSVMVS ABSVMVS is a portfolio of chromogenic prints by Hollis Frampton, an artist and educator who worked in both still photography and the avant-garde film movement known as “New America Cinema,” which flourished in the 1960s and 1970s. He used his camera to record and order his unique collection of plant and animal specimens found in his travels, including road kill and delicacies from an Asian grocery. Each color photograph is paired by text of the object’s Latin name, history, and mythology. Although his texts borrow the language and model of scientific classification, his version is quirky, personal, and humorous.  His array of oddities and the stories of their discovery relay an artist’s creative process of trolling his neighborhood for inspiration.


Photographers and artists often seek an underlying structure or pattern in the world around them. As hundreds of students walked through this exhibition, some carrying cameras and a photo assignment, they were able to see how five different artists went fishing for inspiration and made, as Siskind said, “order out of chaos.”


Mary Lee Hodgens

About the Artist

Marion Faller

BirthplaceWallington, NJ
CitizenshipUnited States
Cultural HeritageEuropean-American


Just as paths are worn over time to connect locations, so the outlines of our lives are exposed by accumulated events, from the genetic patterns we inherit, to our position in family photographs. Before we realize it, our experiences have repeated over time to chart a signature constellation. Attention to detail is the starting point of Marion Faller's wide range of projects that evolve into inventories of living traditions. In this retrospective of her work titled, DETAIL - REPETITION - VARIATION, seven selections from her major projects of the last decade are presented.

In her TIME CAPSULE series, Faller has followed two years in the life of her son, Will, by photographing the objects she cleaned out of his pockets on laundry day. Beginning in 1979, when Will was twelve, Faller recorded 110 days of candy wrappers, pennies, pocket knives, and an assortment of other miniature prizes. Each wash day is represented by a small still life that has been photographed against a medium grey card, printed 4 x 6 inches - to life size - and matted in a sequence of five across. The arrangements challenge our notion of 'still life' in their lively expression of physical and intellectual activity. The warm realistic colo of the photographs brings us even closer to the personal nature of the project which is about mother and son. The cherished details of Will's daily travels contribute also to the broader tale of adolescent growing pain where plastic insects and pipe cleaners give way to cash receipts, a comb, and occasional detention slip.

FLORA (1977 - 1979), the earliest series in the exhibition, explores women of different ages are who are 'decorated' with the names of flowers. Faller uses late nineteenth century photographs of anonymous women and frames them with silhouettes of their namesake flowers, ribbons, and other notions. Though they share the same format and generally central position, each portrait undergoes a unique process from straight black-and-white print to cyanotype and some collage as well.

LOCAL CONVENTIONS (1979 - 1983) is a wonderful contribution to backyard cultural history where Faller combines straight documentary with the repetition of a theme to make wry commentary on the accepted arrangement of outdoor property. Each set of four post card sized photographs plots what Faller describes as, 'the everyday aesthetic decisions that people take--decisions that are usually personal and traditional at the same time.' The seasons are an important aspect of this selection taken from a larger series of over 200 photographs. The homemade goblins on porches in October and the flower boxes full of petunias in July were photographed at rural Central New York crossroads and record preparations for the welcome change of seasons.

NATIVITY is an ongoing survey started in 1982 as another 'theme and variations' collection. Faller exposes our pagan instinct for filling spiritual voids with pageantry in our generic depictions of the holy family. While she was involved with this series, Faller made connections with Kate Koperski, a folk art consultant also living in Buffalo, NY. SWIENCONKA and the ALTARS are a result of this logical alliance. The swienconka, or Easter baskets, were photographed at the St. John Kanty R.C. Church in Buffalo on Holy Saturday. Each 16 x 20 inch color photograph is taken at an angle where the owner tips her or his basket towards the camera for us to admire.

In the catalogue of their joint exhibit, 'The Iconography of Rebirth, Aspects of the Polish American Easter Celebration', Koperski explains that these personal variations on the tradition of blessing and sharing special food in Spring fuel the survival of the ritual and our desire to contemplate it. NEITHER-NOR, A PRIMER is the newest portfolio of prints that celebrate compound words 'whose meaning is given in neither the former word nor the latter.' The simple graphic illustrations of paired words like footnote, greenhorn and dreamboat have been generated on an Amiga 1000 computer.

The prints are set up like pages from a book and combine elements of printmaking with media production in an 'easy reader' style. This series is a whimsical departure from her straightforward documents of social customs but refers to a legacy of manuscript illumination. The variety of projects represented in this exhibition demonstrate the artist's flexibility in charting the quirks of human nature. From the personal and public standpoint Faller applies her skillful observation, a creative willingness to collaborate with her subject, and free spirit to experiment with process. Faller's consistent attention to detail provides the direction to coexist with past and future.

Gina Murtagh (c)1988