Ted Mosher’s spontaneous photo journeys at Highwire


(Chip visits Highwire Gallery and sees photos and paintings by Ted Mosher that seem like they are trying to capture the future.–the Artblog editors)

Highwire Gallery on Frankford Avenue is currently showing new work by Ted Mosher, specifically a series of photographs and watercolors that he has assembled through a dual-process of capture and creation. On the walls of the long, narrow interior of the gallery hang alternating sections of watercolor paintings and small, square photographs arranged into rectangular groups of thirty images.

A wall of tiny cell phone camera shots from moving cars by Ted Mosher.
A wall of tiny cell phone camera shots from moving cars by Ted Mosher.

Mosher utilizes a deceptively simple cell phone camera as the basis for his photographic excursions, as opposed to a heavy duty SLR. Typically, the artist is on the road in the passenger seat, and snaps these impromptu shots through the windows. These scenes, which he barely perceives in an active sense, are visible just prior to the moment he presses the button, and then disappear behind him as he and the car hurtle down the road.

Rocky and industrial captures from Mosher's many varied images.
Rocky and industrial captures from Mosher’s many varied images.

Photos snapped from a moving car

These photos are snapped somewhat at random, but by responding to scenery ahead of the vehicle they also act as a sort of delayed response to what lies ahead. By harnessing this simple means of time travel, Mosher allows his photos to fall significantly into the hands of fate. Much like any endeavor we undertake, no matter how much prior planning, talent, or foresight we possess, the outcome is ultimately shaped as much by the cards we are dealt as by our poker face. In accepting this sometimes maddening waltz of cause and effect, the results of such an artistic experiment lay themselves out in a fashion that could colloquially be described as ‘zen’ or simply ‘going with the flow.’ After all, what other choice do we ultimately have?

Some of Mosher's images are distorted by movement and low quality capture devices.
Some of Mosher’s images are distorted by movement and low quality capture devices.

For a selection of pictures that seem to lack direction, there is still an undercurrent of thematic imagery that repeats throughout the show. We see snippets of roads, signs, electrical wires, trees and plants, and sections of other vehicles time and time again. The quick movement of the car, paired with the relatively low resolution of the phone camera, results in some distortion and warping of the final products as well. Adding these typically-unwanted effects to the process of unplanned composition results in a series of misfit photos that revel in their counter-intuition.

Watercolors based on the photos

Also included are a number of watercolors based on the source images.
Also included are a number of watercolors based on the source images.

Alongside these photographic experiments, Mosher also includes a number of watercolor paintings that he composes based on the images captured with his phone. This is where he exhibits a more deliberate interpretation and degree of artistic liberty with the otherwise semi-accidental pieces. They are colored with pigment instead of pixel but maintain much of the same imagery, albeit in a reduced form. Silhouettes take the place of distant scenery while tree branches fan out in pastel fingers of forks and fractals. A fence’s otherwise right-angled structure bends to the rhomboid distortion of the source image as the artist harnesses glitches as a basis for composition.

Combining works that are obviously off-the-cuff with those reworked into wispy watercolors, Ted Mosher lets go and allows for a creative game of chance that results in a glut of signs and symbols from roadways, cities, and woods.

Ted Mosher‘s show will be on view until December 1 at Highwire Gallery, 2040 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia.


cellphone photographs, highwire gallery, landscape, ted mosher, the future, time, watercolors



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