Culture Buzz

Art, photography and writing. What’s the difference, anyway?

"Fashionista" by David Fokos, inspired by Stephen Fried's book, Thing of Beauty.

“Fashionista” by David Fokos, inspired by Stephen Fried’s book, Thing of Beauty.

Photographer David Fokos has an appreciation for real books– not the kind you buy on Amazon and read on a tablet– but the hard back, musty smelling treasures packed with prose that has shaped our culture. Fokos’ show at Pulse Gallery pays homage to the carefully crafted words that have evolved into idiomatic phrases; iconic constructions that hold weight and ring true now in the decade that saw more e-books sold on Amazon.com than those made out of trees and ink.

“This work, for me, was something I felt passionate about,” Fokos says. “I live with Barbarella, who’s a writer who loves to read books. I’m acutely aware of the contributions of writers, as well as books and literature, so this was something I wanted to take the time out of my other schedule to work on.”

Fokos, who is mostly known for his work in black and white landscape photography, took a break from being behind the lens for his first show comprised of artwork, which he physically made, and then captured using a lidless-flatbed scanner in a dark room.

"Big Brother," by David Fokos.

“Big Brother” by David Fokos.

“The scanner allows for extremely high resolution images- so when you look at the images, you can see the pulp in the paper, and all those fibers in extraordinary detail, giving it a real 3- dimensional quality,” he explains. “A number of people thought the “Big Brother” page was suspended on a black background, and they’d ask, how’d you get such a large book? But more than one person thought it was an actual page floating there. The second thing is the lighting you get with the scanner; it’s unique in that whatever is in contact with the glass is the brightest. So, for example, if I was to make something S-shaped, it would look like I was able to light just the surface of the S the brightest. With studio lighting, that’s a very difficult, if not impossible, thing to achieve– to shape light into a specific form.”

"When the drugs began to take hold" by David Fokos.

“The drugs began to take hold” by David Fokos.

Inspired by titles like Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,  George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Joy Davidman’s Weeping Bay and Stephen Fried’s Thing of Beauty, Fokos manipulated pages into forms emblematic of the writers’ phrases he chose to highlight. For example, his piece “Big Brother” is meant to resemble police tape, preventing you from reading the “subversive text” beyond it and Davidman’s famous line– also the title of Fokos’ piece– “Life’s a Bitch,” is a sentiment he translates into form by crumpling-up the page it was written on.

Without intention, the writer’s desk installation reflects Fokos’ process to perfect the origami-like constructions that he then scanned to make the large-scale pieces in the show. The takeaway? Crafting isn’t easy, no matter the artist or genre.

Don’t miss Fokos’ talk on his work, happening at Pulse Gallery at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at Bread & Salt. He’ll be discussing his process in-depth and taking attendees on a gallery tour. The show is on view through Dec. 20.  Contact director@pulsegallery.org for more information and sales inquiries.

Editor’s note: Fokos is also the director of Art Pulse T.V., where he collaborates with executive producer (and his wife), Barbarella, to expose the arts in San Diego County and Baja. To follow what they’re in to, check out artpulse.tv for past episodes.