Coldstream Fine Art is pleased to present Connotations, a new exhibition from Toronto-based photographer Tom Ridout. An architectural photographer by trade, Ridout’s new series concerns itself instead with the architecture of knowledge and how it is mediated through imagery. In a world that the artist sees as “post-literate”, the image is key to carrying meaning, as vulnerable as it is to redefinition. Ridout exploits this instability by eliciting connotations, pulling images old and new from a variety of sources and juxtaposing them in miniaturized, ever-referential photocollages.
By reprinting a mix of found and self-taken photographs on Polaroid-style instax prints, the artist aims for an impressionistic approach to photography. Beyond the nostalgic sentimentality (in Ridout’s words, the “faux-historic patina”) that instax grants the images, the scale encourages viewers to get close to the work, inspecting it carefully, looking beyond the contents and into the contexts. Rather than viewing the works as singular objects, we are encouraged to piece apart the meaning built from their interrelations, their grammar. This, of course, is modulated by the bodies of knowledge that we as viewers—as diverse interpreters of art and history—bring to the table.
In a time when political points are scored from easy answers to complex questions, the artist wants to remind us that the intricacy of the world is inescapable, communicated not only in our images but also in our methods of organization. Our hyperactive, oversaturated visual culture invites this engagement with multiplicity, but how we confront it is ultimately up to us. With his minimalist array of ambiguous visual puns and associations, Ridout gives us a template for how to start.