Originally trained as a scientist, David Goldes uses studio tabletop photography as a way to explore a variety of scientific phenomena. His made-up world is full of fire, electricity, and water, as well as an assortment of household props that include nails, wires, pencils, spoons, and balloons. His photographs clearly reveal an interest in what he calls “the gap between exploration and mystery,” and the ways in which scientific inquiry has been aided by photography for over a century. Zap and Flow presents images made by the Minneapolis-based photographer over the course of twenty years, revealing his keen appreciation for the shared trait of both art and science to seek answers to far-reaching questions. 

Upon deciding that he did not want to continue his life as a scientist—molecular geneticist, to be exact—Goldes went to graduate school to study photography. There he was exposed to the wide range of possibilities that defined photography in the 1970s, possibilities that reflected a tremendous transformation in how the camera was used by amateurs and artists alike. One key change was the shift from the “taking” of photographs to the “making” of photographs. Instead of simply going out into the world to look for what photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson had called “the decisive moment,” the scene or thing to be photographed was now set-up or constructed in advance. 

This studio-based practice could be described as “fabricated photography,” allowing the artist to invent a tableau or non-traditional still life in front of the camera. Yet, this method of making photographs had precursors in the early history of photography, especially in the 19th century. Goldes has adopted this anachronistic approach to photographic images, making his work seem simultaneously historical, yet very contemporary. He combines it with his extensive knowledge of scientific practice and love for open-ended, youthful experimentation, declaring an unabashed desire to explore those illusory instants that only a camera can capture. 

This exhibition is made possible with the generous support from the Berman Foundation.


All Berman exhibitions and programs are free and open to the public