Corey Escoto: Screen Play

Corey Escoto’s Screen Play is currently hanging at Texas Tech School of Art’s SRO Gallery, much of its content being shared with his exhibition Deep Trouble at Regina Rex in New York. Unusually for a photographer, Escoto works almost entirely with polaroid film—Impossible Silver Shade Instant Film, specifically.

Corey Escoto, The Fool (2015), Impossible Silver Shade Instant Film, 8 x 10 inches.

To a pair of eyes accustomed to images created in Photoshop, his images are bewilderingly simplistic; cutout text exposed with light and texture effects to resemble a 3D rendering against backgrounds of color gradient or simple photograph (“Hooker with a Heart of Gold” is overlaid on an image of fishnet stockings). The works reference film tropes spanning from the Golden Age to current popular films; images are populated with familiar, vaguely evocative messages—“The Plot Thickens”, “Likeable Asshole”, and “High Speed Chase”—all highly cinematographic, featuring spot-lighting, noir shadow, big sans-serif typefaces, ribbon, and the like. The appearance of banal, digitally processed 3D image effects belies a truly remarkable execution of high concept through technical exercise. Using multiple exposures, cutout text and patterns, and carefully controlled lighting, Escoto emulates with great effort what cinematographers innovated in decades past and what pedestrian graphic designers do today. In so doing, he offers not so much critique or comment, but observation of and engagement with his (and our) period in the history of our engagement with images. Technologies that create analog images are obsolete, but still fresh in cultural memory, while digitally produced images are most familiar to us; our cultural memory of the design work created in image technology past heavily influences the digitally created work of designers present.

Corey Escoto, Slap in the Face (2015), Impossible Silver Shade Instant Film, 8 x 10 inches.

Escoto speaks the disused dialect so fluently and with such tight focus that he allows us to mistake it for a prosaic expression in the new one. He isn’t treading the mindlessly boring trough of digital-age, information society, social media, mass desensitization/depersonalization commentary others did and do trot out; he’s making a lighter observation. They only observe what has as it continually merges with what is. His work bridges approaches to image creation, consumption, and our ever-changing ideas on what a must comprise a virtual space.

Corey Escoto, Slap in the Face (2015), Impossible Silver Shade Instant Film, 8 x 10 inches. ​

Images courtesy of the artist and Jordann Davis

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