Martino Coppes

Martino Coppes creates evocative, landscapelike images by making peculiar assemblages out of discarded bits of white plastic and then carefully photographing them. Suggesting the aftermath of a natural or atomic disaster, these strangely lit pseudo-landscapes, which often incorporate tiny figures, are both synthetic and organic, simultaneously conveying a sense of stasis and continuous, subtle metamorphosis.

Although his photographs are strangely seductive, Coppes doesn’t look for beauty in the bits of discarded plastic he uses; rather, he seems primarily concerned with finding out how completely he can transform materials, and with disorienting the viewer. In the process he manages to alter genre as well as material, undermining the tired familiarity of landscape imagery through his use of glowing and undulating plastic to suggest ravaged land masses and eerie underground passages.

A recent video that was also included in the show added a third dimension to the images in the still photographs, while underlining the degree to which Coppes transforms his materials. In this tape Coppes’ camera appears to travel through and around the cobbled-together plastic models, alerting the viewer to disparate bits of detritus that in the photographs appear to be integral parts of a seamless whole.

While Coppes’ beautiful but somewhat unnerving photographs may at first appear to fuse the natural and the cultural, ultimately they highlight the separation between the two. These open-ended, expansive images are certainly emblematic of contradictions rife in contemporary culture; at the same time, however, they suggest visions of an uncertain future.

Anthony Iannacci