Ted Kincaid Every Doubt That Holds You Here
Ted Kincaid’s images are beautiful, dreamy, ethereal. It’s not necessary to know anything about the work to be transported by them. Some have a hazy, Romantic quality, others a crystalline clarity, still others feel antique; all of them insinuate familiarity. Even if we can’t identify the exact location for each scene, we feel that we’ve seen it somewhere–perhaps in mid-century nature photography or in an old movie. We recognize these places; of this we can be sure.
Ted Kincaid is perfectly happy to leave us with the illusion that we’re witnessing a faithful representation of the real, because his real pleasure lies in convincingly presenting a counterfeit. For these images are by no means what they appear to be: photographic depictions of the land, sea, or moon. They are carefully constructed amalgamations from very un-Romantic sources–including images of stains from his studio floor.
The artist describes himself and his approach to art making as “Machiavellian”. Kincaid intentionally fools his audience; his works, however, compel us to question the veracity of a photographic image in a manner more playful than devious. What looks for all the world like the moon is, in fact, snippets of value and tone culled from numerous sources and painstakingly stitched together digitally, pixel by pixel. The work is delicately composed, having more in common with modeling in painting and drawing than with photography. His pictures of sailing ships and the roiling sea echoing the sensibility of famed naturalist John Muir. They also reference 19th century landscape painting, thus transforming works that are pure products of the digital age into vehicles transporting us to lost worlds of artistic practice.
As Kincaid’s art has progressed over the years, it increasingly references a domain of experience that entranced him as a child: the sort of documentation of paranormal subject matter (ghosts, Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, UFO’s) that was popular on American television during the 1970s. These programs, presenting “indisputable” evidence of the existence of these creatures, typically involved some blurry element or other crudely integrated within an identifiable setting, be it an abandoned, “haunted” house, a dense forest, a quiet Scottish loch, or a deserted landscape where an alien ship has landed.
Ted Kincaid’s fascination with such subject matter, his obsession with the lowbrow metaphysical, was as common at that time as the cultural presence of Armageddon and the Rapture are today. Unlike his occultist forebears, however, Kincaid invites us to admire the way his “tricks” bring the otherworldly into being through snatches of the everyday.