Laboratory (Microphones), 1999
Laboratory (Microphones), 1999

Lynne Cohen
Laboratory (Microphones), 1999
Gelatin silver print
36.2 x 46 inch ( 44.2 x 54.1 inch framed )
Edition of 8 ex
Signé et daté


Laboratory (Microphones)


     Some of my black-and-white photographs would work in colour, but many-this one, for instance-wouldn't. Colour would have provided unnecessary information and distracted the viewer from the strangeness of the place. While everything in the room is crystal clear, the picture is difficult to decipher. There is a lot that doesn't add up. For example, the plywood platform on the floor seems to have no useful purpose other than perhaps an aesthetic one.

     When I made the photograph, I was using generic titles and I called it "Laboratory", which describes it, if only vaguely. Early on I identified pictures with names of where they were made and what was being photographed. One title was "Men's Club", "Kalamazoo", "Michigan", another " Living Room", "Racine", "Wisconcin". I liked to poetry of these titles, which are like the lists in Michel Butor's Mobile. The only trouble was that people fixated on these descriptions. This made me shift to using generic titles, as here, titles that tell you next to nothing. But then another problem arose. There was no way to distinguish among the dozens of the laboratories, spas or whatever, all with the same title. To solve this problem, I started using coded titles for private reference. Soon enough,  however, these titles entered the public realm, and I realized I had to take the business more seriously. In the end I decided to use code words within parentheses as titles. Calling a photograph "Untitled (Such-and-Such)" identifies it without saying too much. Today I wouldn't call this pictures "Untitled (Laboratory)". That would defeat the object. Iwould call it something like "Untitled (Microphones)".

       Without the parentheses, the titles would seem too important. I don't want people to fall back on them and think that they reveal all. "Untitled (Microphones)" doesn't tell you much about the picture. Knowing there are microphones to be spotted gets you no further ahead, rather puts you further behind. As I said, I like these sorts of titles. There are many misleading hints in my pictures. If this gets people to stop, look and think, that is more than enough.


Catalogue "Lynne Cohen - Faux Indices" - Exhibition at Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal - from February 7 to April 28, 2013 / Lynne Cohen & François LeTourneux (Page 54)