Notes On A Paper Universe
Michael Donnor doesn’t believe in objectivity, and according to quantum physics, neither does the rest of the universe. We can know the position or the momentum of a subatomic particle, but not both, and its state can be changed simply by how and when we observe it. So how do we know the world from the world we see? In many ways, the photograph has always been the perfect expression of this question. Photography has been a known fiction ever since William Henry Fox Talbot staged a shot of his own library out on the lawn (better light out there, you see.) And yet photographs are still used for evidence in court, as proof in the newspaper. Are they the Truth, or are they a Lie? Or, in some quantum-like state, could they be both?
Donnor’s artwork is happy to leave this question unanswered, by letting his drawings and interventions into his own photographs guide our understanding – and misunderstanding – of the pictures. They are little fictions based on facts, and make a universe of their own. Still, it is important to know that these are, in the end, photographs: in every image, something has happened that will likely not happen the same way again. We see it in the momentary patterns of stars or birds, in the phase of the moon. Even his ephemeral chalk drawings have their moment, too. All it would take to erase them is one strong gust of wind, or a hundred years of time. And to the universe, really, what’s the difference?
Dan Estabrook Artist/Writer