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The Chicago Photographer Using Masking Tape To Create Another Dimension

Chicago-based photographer Robert Chase Heishman got his start at the ripe age of 18 at the world-renowned Merce Cunningham Dance Company in New York. There, Heishman was entrusted to create a set design for the work Split-Sides. Cunningham — known for his frequent collaborations with musicians John Cage and David Tudor and artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Bruce Nauman — worked closely with Heishman, and thus the photographer’s appreciation for chance-operations, collaborations, and process-based art was born. “I apply similar sensibilities of structure, chance, experimentation, and openness that I learned from Merce and his collaborators to my interest, study, and use of photography and video,” says Heishman.

It’s easy to see these sensibilities in action in his ongoing _IMG series, which we’re featuring here today. Heishman uses various colors of masking tape to meticulously create patterns that transcend the three-dimensional space, creating the illusion of a flat, two-dimensional pictorial plane. Having such an appreciation for process-based art, Heishman always found it hard to be a point-and-shoot photographer. For him, he needed a “structure to work in and construct from.” These images reveal “the labor involved in making a formal composition in real space by oscillating congruous and incongruous marks.”

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