PRINT March 1982


It is not difficult to observe that ecstatic phenomena proliferate in proportion to the technicization of society. They play an important role in modern society, but not the role usually assigned them. They function not as causes but as effects.

—Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society

JEFF WALL'S WRITING ABOUT HIS imagery is obsessed with technique. For example, in the catalogue for the 1979 exhibition of his work in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (Canada), he develops at length what amounts to an ideology of fluorescent lighting. What begins as an empirical description of a method of lighting ends as a speculative account of its expressive potential. Wall in effect offers us a “sentimental education” in Modern lighting: an exploration of the effect on sensibility and emotivity of what he comes to envision as Modernist lighting, “rendering every part of an illuminated space equivalent

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