This work was created as part of the Photography Is Magic Commission project curated by Charlotte Cotton.


"The artists who have created bespoke works in response to Photography Is Magic reconsider photographic traditions and implement new skills to create their versions of photographic sleight of hand. Their photographic magic derives from the span of the medium’s rich history, from analog through to the newest imaging technologies, and is set within the framework of the present moment of visual culture."


—Charlotte Cotton


Lucas Blalock’s Thimblerig uses software as its material, declaring “painterly” operations to be capable of distinctly authored aesthetics. Such an approach brings the material possibilities of software into focus, essentially calling out Photoshop as a medium in its own right, with inherent possibilities for creative subjectivity and for defining the character of contemporary picture-making.


"When I started making the work shown here, in 2006, I was channeling a then-newfound interest in the nineteenth century— photography’s role in it, and figures from Courbet to P. T. Barnum. The Metropolitan Museum of Art had just done a survey of Spiritualist photography titled The Perfect Medium, which had an important impact on me. The conjuring of the trope of confidence—and its alternate, humbug—was a beginning for me, and a mirror for “the digital.” As my work took shape, it ended up being a performance of magic; its staging, its relationship to spectacle and commodity, became central. I came to think about the studio as a theater space and discovered in the ideas of Bertolt Brecht a way to put pressure on this and to picture it. I started to consider how much labor was hidden in the making of a photograph, and began making the evidence of these things part of my picture-making. In the way I was working, this was not only with the physical/optical apparatus of the studio, but also the computer’s tools.


In the past few years, with increasing intensity, I have come full circle to thinking about picture-making as a way around the narrow, spectacular magic of the commodity, and as having a much deeper relationship to genuine possibility."


—LB

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