Photographs by Penelope Umbrico.
Aperture, 2011. 172 pp., 100 color illustrations, 9½x10¾".
Penelope Umbrico: Photographs offers a radical reinterpretation of everyday consumer
and vernacular images. As the artist describes, she works “within the virtual
world of consumer marketing and social media, traveling through the
relentless flow of seductive images, objects and information that surrounds us,
searching for decisive moments—but in these worlds, decisive moments are
cultural absurdities.” Umbrico finds these moments in the printed pages of
consumer product mail-order catalogues, travel and leisure brochures, and
online sites such as Craigslist, eBay and Flickr. By identifying and isolating
image typologies—candy-colored horizons and sunsets, books used as props—
the farcical and surreal nature of the lingua franca of consumerism and recreation
is brought to new light. Penelope Umbrico: Photographs presents a unique
and challenging approach to quintessential issues of representation in contemporary
culture, including how images are used to construct and communicate
consumer desire, and whether or not the growing volume of images we view
online fosters a critical visual literacy. This volume, Umbrico’s first monograph,
is accompanied by a series of essays, appendices of source material, excerpts
from theoretical works and other material serving as resources for engaging
further with the work and issues involved.