Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bill Travis - Photographer

Bill Travis kindly emailed me the three photographs of this post. Rather than go to his website to investigate his work more fully, I thought it might be interesting to use only what he sent. So a few personal impressions.

What strikes me initially is that the images are in degrees 'indistinct' in that you are not exactly sure of all that is being presented, particularly the first and last. You fill in 'gaps' with your own ideas, as modeled in gestalt of psychology. In the final work and from my concerns and obsessions, I am persuaded something oral and sexual is occurring. In the first, I seem to see another guy/s at the foot of the bed, suggesting interacting sex. But perhaps this composition is constructed of two separate images.

Then there is a sense of the images being across-media - the last photograph for example has a nice parallel sense of being a fresco, something on an old, weathered and cracked wall.

The works seem contextually multi-layered. The guy in bed in the initial photo seems overlaid by a seascape, this second context enhanced by green coloration/wash. Sexuality is again brought into play by the nude body in bed, and particularly the focus on the model's butt.

Water then runs on into the second image, which strikes me as having more conventional iconography - the beautiful and erotic man observed but apparently unaware. The sea is also presented in the 'sun-baking' composition. With this activity being over-layered with another closely-related one - cooling at the sea's edge, here water drips down the man's pecs. There is a curious tension in the overlay here - one is not so relaxed sunning semi-submerged.

Art with gay content is often an exercise in some sort of (usually soft) pornography - the work of Bill Travis is not. I'm not playing morality here - simply stating the situation!

I'm not sure/have no idea what Bill was considering or had in mind when producing the images he sent, or indeed the intellectual framework in which he positions himself (post modern, ... ?), but I take view, from literary criticism, that art work has an independent life once put out by the artist, and can be interpreted in ways that may not have been intended.

Anyway, now I'm off to Bill's website ( to see more of his photography!

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