The show's most disturbing and enigmatic works come courtesy of Olympia-based artist Daniel Barron, whose photographic phantasmagorias are the stuff of which nightmares are made. Late at night, after he tucks his children into bed, Barron snaps digital pictures of mundane objects around the house: toys, groceries, his own elbow.... Then, using PhotoShop, he digitally manipulates this source material into horrific montages. Peasant shows an object that appears to be an uncooked chicken being sprayed with milk, the drops splattering upon impact, frozen in time like short-exposure mushroom clouds. The image, along with a companion piece, Seed, is many things: nifty, novel, shocking, disgusting. But one thing it is not is real. There is something important lacking in these works that is not lacking in photos where fantastical effects are created in-camera. For decades, Lois Greenfield has captured airborne dancers frozen in the unlikeliest of positions, sans camera tricks and with the offscreen aid of only the occasional trampoline. In 1948, Philippe Halsman created Dalí Atomicus, in which the late Surrealist appeared to float mid-air amid similarly gravity-defying paintings, a chair, an arc of water, and three cats. This well-known image was the best of 28 different exposures, each of which had assistants throwing the cats and water into the air, and Dalí himself jumping on the count of three. It is no doubt old-fashioned to suggest that doing something for real is better than doing it with the aid of PhotoShop. If Barron had squirted an actual raw chicken with milk, the finished photo might have looked exactly the same as his digital manipulation, but it would have had greater credibility and held a more authentic interest for the viewer. Then again, I can tell you from experience that squirting raw chickens with milk is really, really gross.
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