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This was written for my exhibit opening February 10, 2024, at 6 PM at Parapet / Real Humans in St. Louis.


Asked for the shortest possible declaration of what I am trying to convey in my art, my answer would be, Look at the world.

Asked for a little more, I might add, That is the entire meaning of my work. The rest is commentary.

My hope is to bring the unadorned and unbiased seeing of things in the world, seeing for pleasure rather than for use, an original seeing so often dulled by the superficial distractions and image tsunamis that swamp our culture, back to life. The direct encounter of viewer and object through intensive and creative seeing can itself be pleasurable, transformative, even spiritual. It can take you out of your quotidian being, out of the trap of identity-based emotions, and, by placing you like a still-discovering child standing in front of a world that is other than you, stretch who you are and who you can become beyond the borders of the ever-narrowing self.

I am not the first person with ideas such as this. The filmmaker Stan Brakhage once said at one of his screenings something to the effect that if one person in the audience goes out afterwards and sees the street in a new way, he will be satisfied. Four centuries ago, the poet George Wither wrote a poem titled Philarete Praises Poetry. Philarete is an aesthete; poetry is personified as a woman, the her of the following six lines:

     In my former dayes of blisse,
     Her divine skill taught me this,
     That from every thing I saw,
     I could some invention draw:
     And raise pleasure to her height,
     Through the meanest objects sight.

Some of my work uses digital manipulation to explore the insides and auras of the digital image. In this exhibit, Figments is the example of that. The digital image, including what happens in tiny microprocessors, is a part of our world too.

In early 2023 I began making films, constructed digitally, but possibly on occasion also shown on film. For the viewer, attending to the editing, and specifically to what happens at the point of a cut between two images, is crucial to appreciation. A shape in one shot becomes a similar or contrasting shape in the next; a tiny movement in one part of the frame leads rhythmically to a seemingly unrelated movement in the next. The phenomena of the seen world can seem almost magically interconnected, as if all things are parts of a larger whole. Also, the films, from a project called Interactions, are accompanied by other works that use still images from each take of the film. Viewing both in relationship is meant to uncover the vast differences between reality seen through the moving and still image, but also, opposingly, to show that still images can suggest movements and that moving images contain stills. The viewer is taken outside of another prison, that of a specific medium. The inadequacy of each to present the world stands revealed, and the idea of any single representation as truth is undercut, leaving only the incalculable magnificence of each depicted part of our planet.

Fred Camper

Other Artist's Statements     Fred Camper art     Complete Fred Camper art