Practice: Photography and Video
Date of Lecture: 2001-02-09
Photo-based artist Robbert Flick has been systematically documenting the landscape for over twenty-five years. Since the 1970s, Flick has focused his camera on the urban landscape of Los Angeles. Working with a digital video camera mounted on a car he shoots and then edits individual frames that are reassembled through computer manipulation. The resulting images form mosaic-like grids that describe the streets of L.A. using a complex narrative structure. Flick collects images of anonymous, yet common, facades, which give a sense of place and anonymity to his work. The juxtaposition of frames is created by both aesthetic choice as well as linear existence. The grids show a semi-linear sequence of neighborhoods with moments of daily life interacting with storefronts and streetscapes. By fragmenting and grouping the sequences, Flick has succeeded in reconstructing a quick-paced urban experience, within the visual artistic experience of looking at the image. Our eyes scan left to right, stopping to pick out moments or objects, which are of particular interest. This simulates Flick’s re-creation of the view from a drivers’ perspective. We quickly access an environment and form a perception of the area by this method.
His work, which is collected and shown by museums around the world, has been compared to that of conceptual artists Hollis Frampton and Ed Ruscha. Flick was recently a Getty Scholar at the Getty Center for the History of Art and Humanities. His publications include Robbert Flick: Sequential Views, 1980-1986 (1987) and Robbert Flick: Selected Works 1971-1981 (1982). He currently teaches at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California.