Perhaps to assuage his regret at abandoning film photography, Jantzen decided that digital image-making is a different form. “It is an entirely new medium altogether, one closer to painting and sculpture,” he writes. That’s arguable, but the artist’s switch to pixels has encouraged him to take an art-historical approach. “Ostinato” includes some still lives of fruit and flowers, classic oil-painting subjects, and a fractured view of an actual painting, “Study No. 32 (I Like Cezanne).” There’s also a deconstructed/reconstructed view of a Campbell’s Soup box, which nods to Warhol.
In the tradition of pre-digital photography, Jantzen sometimes considers ordinary things: a ragged storefront, a tree stump or his hand holding a book. But digital imagery, for Jantzen at least, leads to large and often architectural subjects. That makes sense, because the photographer has become sort of a builder himself. The multitiered work in “Ostinato” couldn’t actually exist in the 3-D world, but it is impeccably constructed and kind of grand.
Where Jantzen tends to focus on human-made or -arranged subjects, Georg Kuettinger takes his digital camera into the wild. Or at least to locations that are as wild as can be found in Western Europe, where landscapes tend to be well-manicured. The German photographer, having his first American solo show at Project 4, constructs large-format, extremely widescreen vistas from multiple images. There’s a patchwork aspect to his photo collages, especially on close inspection, but from a distance they appear nearly natural and almost seamless. The slight jumpiness of cut-together pieces such as “Salinas del Janubio” or “Polders” plays on the human-imposed patterns of, respectively, agricultural fields or a latticework of canals.
Sometimes, Kuettinger enlists close-ups to construct a sweeping tableau. Four images of forests, from Spain, Portugal and Italy, show tree trunks at close hand. Unlike most such photos, these are horizontal rather than vertical, revealing only a small portion of the trees’ height. But the images are stacked atop one another on the wall, so that they cumulatively present a sense of towering. Together, the four sets of trees seem to be in a kind of dance, and the white patches of sunlight that penetrate the canopies could be theatrical spotlights.