Ira Schneider is one of the great abstract humorists of our time as well as a documentarian of wide resources. In his work, these two fields of activity do not compete but rather merge into a single, often surreal experience which can peer below the surface of things to plumb the act of perception itself. If it is up to the rest of us to parse the meaning thereof, then the act of viewing his photos becomes a radical act in and of itself, a kind of descent into the possibilities of physical properties.As Protagoras said, man is the measure of all things, and Schneider's work recalibrates both the physical and metaphysical facts of life perhaps the Washington Monument is really only five foot eight. While the facts on the ground remain firmly on the ground, they are no longer required to be facts and indeed, the ground itself is likely to shift, revealing a sprawling colorfield that can be quite beautiful, even dramatic at times. His photos capture the miracle of motion through the stasis of light; they can be poetry, a request for directions, or, indeed, a recipe for a delicious quiche. To Schneider, these elements all merge nicely into a single reality: the photo image.While his images are specific to time and place they are not required to bare resemblance to either or to what passes for the facts as they arrive through our perceptive filters; colors and shapes take on a life of their own and if for the moment they register in our minds in one particular formation, perhaps in the next moment they will morph into something completely new. This is the first layer of meaning in his work: at any moment, trying to capture any reality is akin to capturing the sea in a fish net. The center cannot hold.Water, of course, is a favourite theme of Schneider's work, to the extent that quite often objects of dramatic solidity become liquefied when seen through his lens. Although not all objects can be dissolved in water, this does not prevent one from driving an automobile into a lake or from perceiving the lake as solid and the automobile as potentially fluid. After all, if all matter is just a matter of the Higgs Boson pushing against the fullness of empty space, why should we remain wedded to any one single interpretation of any physical manifestation? This is only one of the many questions posed by Schneider's fondness for capturing those mysterious waves that unify all material reality: we are the source of all understanding and we are passing away even as we are arriving.In summation, Schneider's abstract images are a form of art that presents a rolling horizon of humour, perception and imagination and there is a serious scientific premise in the beauty of his distorted view of reality. Ben Sidran, author of ';There was a Fire' and creator of many music CDs. www.bensidran.com
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