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Frankie Waite and Lauren Smith, “Diluted” at the Alcove Gallery

by Janine Sleem, History of Art, Design and Arch. MS candidate 2013


            Memory, our ability to store and recollect, is shared. How well we are able to recollect them varies. Diluted, currently on view at the Alcove Gallery, is a collaborative exploration of memory and its recollection by first year student Frankie Waite and second year graduate student Lauren Smith.

            Waite captures intimate, candid family portraits, blurred, discolored and overexposed, as if snapshots from memory rather than film. The rocky cliffs and crystal waters of the Aruba coastline act as the setting for an unexpected transcendental experience, inviting us to peer into the sublime haze of figures in high places and deep waters.

             Old habits die hard for Waite, whose affinity for painting reveals itself in her photography. She takes to manipulating the medium as she does watercolor and ink, exposing the film to the sunlight and salt water rather than altering it digitally. The results appear to have been painted by the natural elements they portray. The exposure reveals both the vulnerability of the grainy film, and that of Waite's own memory. Waite reinforces the authenticity of the moment by allowing us to not only see the events unfold as she did, but to experience the blanks that her mind's eye and her camera's lens failed to capture and preserve.

            While the water is a trigger and an applied medium for Frankie Waite's memories and photographs respectively, for Lauren Smith, the ocean waves are the subject matter she attempts to remember and the culprit in denying her the ability to do so. Pixelated waters and white noise dilute the memories that Smith struggles to recapture.

            Smith, a New Forms major, focuses on projected video installations, including what she describes as 'memory videos', from which her sequence of exhibited images were taken. The videos are created by heavily editing existing films that correspond to her own recollected memories. Smith alters the videos, including the audio, exposure and lighting, timing, and sequence of frames to correspond to the process of evoking a memory. She then captured four images that best represent this process for the Alcove Gallery showing.

            Like Waite, Smith ventures into the realm of fading memories using the natural elements of the scene, an attempt to fill in the forgotten with the familiar; Waite through the use of the actual elements, and Smith through digital manipulation. Roberts' work, however, exhibits a self-awareness that Waite's work does not, a realization that the image is only a temporary recollection, a realization that is met with a heavy resistance.

            Diluted addresses the very human concern of passing time, ephemeral memories, and ultimately, our own ephemeral existence.

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