Exhibition: Brad Bamford – The Map Is Not The Territory
May 7 to June 30, 2021
The Map Is Not the Territory
Brad Bamford’s recent work depicts layered and torn advertising signage from urban environments rendered in meticulous detail. The paintings reference digital photos he has taken and are titled according to the place and time that the source image was created. They are both archaeological sites, full of fragments of information, as well as time capsules, capturing the interests, events and graphic design of the moment and culture they represent. The work examines the conceptual relationship between an object and its visual representation in our digital culture.
The Map Is Not the Territory, references the dictum of Polish American scientist and philosopher Alfred Korzybski, who questioned the accuracy with which the limitations of our nervous system and use of language allow us to directly experience reality.
As Bamford’s process begins with photographs, the original photo is a digital interpretation of the scene being depicted, and the painting is an interpretation of the photo of the scene – in effect a map of the map of the territory, or an abstraction of an abstraction. Some of the paintings have been rendered larger and others smaller than the actual objects captured in the digital source imagery, also calling into question the nature of scale and its relation to mapping and accuracy.
The taking of the photograph and the making of the painting are methods of lending permanence to a moment that would otherwise be temporary, but the issue of time is also at play in the pieces through the systematic titling of the work. Although the paintings may be completed years later and out of chronological order, they are titled based on the location and time stamp of the original digital photograph.
The paintings have a high degree of illusionism, further complicating the relationship between the object and its representation. In technique and subject matter, the work also makes reference to the Vanitas paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries, combining beauty, ephemerality and contemporary consumerism.
Brad Bamford completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours at the School of Art at the University of Manitoba.