Gary Schneider Nude
Gary Scneider is a contemporary photographer in New York City teaching at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science. He is probably most renown for his exploration of light and the human body – his nudes. A series or laying portraits depicts his curiosities of the relationship between the seen and the unseen. Photography is known as the art of light, the capturing of light, the manipulation of light. A subject is nothing without light. Think of that notorious Confucius saying, ‘If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?’ As is if there is no light to see an object, can the object exist? Can we ever understand the object? Schneider’s portraits offer a means to which we can understand these ideas. With his aperture set small and his shutter open long, he captures the dance of his flashlight along the bodies of his subjects. In essence, he paints them into the camera with light. Think of the basic additive process of drawing, pencil added to paper creates shade. Think of the basic subtractive process of relief work, carving away at a block of clay reveals the image. To capture his portraits, Schneider is using a subtractive process. By taking away the darkness with his flashlight, he is revealing his image. And what better subject to use with this process then the naked body; a entity we are not often exposed to in complete form. He is not only physically erasing the layer or darkness that lies between our vision and his nudes – but theoretically he has used this subtractive process in breaking through society’s norm. Brilliant. And what is revealed? A perspective on the human form that is contorted. A vision we have not experienced before. The light dances on the surface of the body creating shadow we don’t expect to see.
Chiaroscuro is the term used in art to identify the distribution of light and shade within an image. The greater the chiarscuro, usually the more dramatic the mood. Since chiaroscuro is shading and shadow, there are logical, realistic areas for chiaroscuro to exist and help shape a form. Schneider’s nudes however, lit only by the strokes of his hand held flashlight, exemplify unrealistic, unexpected chiaroscuro; revealing nudes in a light that is more difficult to accept.