Human Activity

Human Activity

Human Activity
Robert Bourdeau, Serge Clement, Martha Henrickson, Simeon Posen
Curated by Jocelyn Edens, Kress Curatorial Fellow
January 28-February 16, 2015

Human Activity assembles a sequence of photographs from the Hampshire College Art Collection. Each frame of Human Activity includes a digitized version of the acquired photograph, a map that corresponds to the title of the photograph, and a timeline highlighting the date of the photograph. Simply, a wall tag with visualized metadata.

The photographs in Human Activity share the pattern of naming a photograph after the place in which it was taken. “Ontario, Canada,” for example, equally describes:

desiccated sunflowers in 1979;
a boarded-up house with a gingerbread porch in 1980;
flowering cabbages in 1981;
the hulls of ships in harbor in 1984;
a knotted tree in 1989.

In setting a sequence of these photographs side by side with maps and timelines, we are not looking at place as point and time as arrow. Rather, we are looking at a feedback loop between the activity of a photograph and the materiality of an environment. The photographs represent a dynamic of place-in-time, through the lens of itinerant artists.

Human Activity cares as much about “how” as “what.” How are the photographs, how is the Hampshire College Art Collection, how is a projected exhibition? The photographs, titled like a travelogue, were produced in a culture of globalization by artists in charge of their own mobility. These objects, among others, landed in the Hampshire College Art Collection through a contract with Capital Vision Inc, a Canadian firm that printed and donated works of art as a small-scale tax scheme. The prints have been digitized, tagged, and added to the Five Colleges Collections Database, reformatting objects into a data set that can be easily re-assembled and projected.

Robert Bourdeau (b. 1931) studied art history at Queen’s University, Kingston, for one year, followed by architectural studies at University of Toronto. Employed as an architectural technologist with Central Mortgage and Housing in Ottawa until 1985, he taught photography at University of Ottawa as adjunct professor from 1979 to 1993, and conducted a master class at the Banff Centre for Continuing Education and workshops in other locations in Canada and US.

Serge Clement (b. 1950) works with traditional documentary, visual poetry, installations, and animated film. He is represented Galerie Simon Blais and Le Réverbère gallery.

Martha Henrickson (b. 1942) photographs interrelationships between humanity and the natural environment. Her images of post-industrial urban landscapes and of sea, mountains and railways have focused on how we preserve and relate to the natural world.

Simeon Posen (b. 1945) is a landscape and architectural photographer with works spanning over four decades. Posen has conducted extensive photographic studies of the architecture of France, Austria, Iran and Greece; as well as broadly documenting the Ontario landscape.

Maps from, a platform with open source software and open data.