Evan Hume

Evan Hume is an artist living and working in South Bend, Indiana. He is currently the Visiting Lecturer of Photography at the University of Notre Dame. Hume earned his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and MFA from George Washington University. Over the last several years, he has worked with obscure photographs obtained from Freedom of Information Act Requests and publicly available declassified documents from government archives, exploring the aesthetics of concealment and the limits of photographic legibility. In 2018, he presented his research on UFO Photography at the International Conference on the Image in Hong Kong. His recent solo exhibitions include Unknown Substances at Furthermore (Washington, DC) and Altered States at Valet (Richmond, VA).

Viewing Distance

It is often said that history is a battleground. Photography has proven to be an extraordinary instrument in the struggle to image, interpret, and define competing histories. Digital reproduction has complicated this further through the amplified dissemination and malleability of photographic images. There is now an opportunity to not only work with an unprecedented amount of networked photographic images as raw material, but also to seek out images that have eluded wide circulation and insert them into the stream of information that informs our conceptions of history and the world in general. We have seen in recent years that the recontextualization and dispersion of images online, particularly on social media, can lead to harmful, widespread disinformation. However, there is a redemptive, liberating potential that exists in the subjective and collective recontextualization of photographic images to form multiple unique interpretations or reinterpretations of historical narratives that have been determined by powerful institutions with their own agendas.

My research-intensive practice focuses on the ways in which photographs circulate, transmit information, and transform over time through processes reproduction. This is expressed in my work through a tension between abstraction and representation that challenges predominant notions of photography’s transparency and epistemic function. Over the last several years I have worked with obscure images from United States government archives obtained from publicly available declassified documents and Freedom of Information Act requests to the CIA, FBI, and NSA. My series Viewing Distance assembles a fragmented, evolving history of photography as a tool of the intelligence apparatus and military-industrial complex for surveillance, reconnaissance, and documentation of experimental technologies. While many of the images date back to the middle of the 20th century, they have only recently been declassified. They represent the time delay from when knowledge comes into being and when it becomes publicly accessible. Through layering and further digital disruption of the images, visual information is presented in a state of flux, open to reconfiguration and reinterpretation. What we are allowed to know and see is often incomplete and indeterminate, encouraging speculation and critical vision.

To view more of Evan Hume’s work please visit his website.