PAUL LOWRY

...Eighteenth-century satirist Jonathan Swift and his vision of the Academy, as portrayed in Gulliver's Travels is one of the filters through which Paul Lowry has constructed his photographs. Lowry's images make reference to the equation of technology and progress that was manifest in the relentless experimental activity marking the dawn of the Enlightenment era and its increasing faith in empirically-gained knowledge. (It is interesting to note that it was precisely the kind of scientific practice Swift satirized that led to the invention of photography a century later.)Lowry portrays the nightmarish repercussions - mirrored in our faces and bodies - of an unshakeable belief in science and progress. While not, in the strict sense, documentary photographs, Lowry's constructions are based on his awareness of an inventory of existing historical images. His metaphoric images recall the 19th-century fascination with the pseudo-scientific practices of physiognomy and phrenology in which photography was extensively utilized. These practices maintained that the inner character of an individual could he read, and generalized, from scientific measurement of the features of one's head - a movement from the outside to the inside, so to speak. These ideas were embraced by the 19th-century natural history museum and used as a basis for the development of racial and ethnological typologies that carne to characterize the work of anthropologists of the time. Lowry presents the head, in particular, as a malleable ground inscribed by what he appears to perceive as our, negative collective interaction with science and technology. However, through constructing an artistic expression based on what cannot he seen (as opposed to phrenology's emphasis on the empirical), Lowry reverses the direction of the "reading": the interior state has been interpreted in order to produce the exterior.

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