Man-made objects pass many of the same milestones as their human creators—conception, birth, activity, age, and death. Yet, the lives of tools are rarely captured or memorialized, with many tools forgotten not long after the have been replaced by the latest upgrade.
Interested in the intersection of science and technology with contemporary life, photographer Rashed Haq explores distinct stages of machines’ lives in “Relics & Industrious.” On view at Aker Imaging Gallery June 20 – July 24, Haq’s exhibition samples objects from two generations of modern tools: our used and abandoned “relics” as well as some of our most established and relied upon “industrious” machines.
“Relics” is rendered in black-and white ‘late photography,’ a style that characteristically depicts the remnant materials left behind after dramatic or violent events in high detail. Shot on farms between Austin and Beaumont, the photos of “Relics” present portraits of abandoned antiquated objects. Some of these items will be recognizable to viewers—a flat iron or a typewriter—while others are the broken-off pieces of larger or more obscure machines. The artist presents these forgotten machines in high definition, with the objects’ bumps of corroded metal or weathered crevasses reading like wrinkles on an ancient face.
While the Haq brings antique machines back to life with “Relics,” he uses “Industrious” to shed light on the unacknowledged technology that is constantly hard at work for man in contemporary society. This second series of the exhibition focuses on the machines of Houston’s current oil industry. In “Industrious,” the corroded facades of—what seem to be—boats and rigs are depicted in intense, saturated color. Despite their brightness, these portraits also showcase the rust, scrapes, and dents that appear on these structures over time. The photographs in “Industrious” evoke mortality and remind us of technology’s potentially disruptive effects on the natural environment.
Although depicted in distinctly different styles, both “Relics & Industrious” lend an intimate life-like quality to man-made objects. In addition to being a practical and respectful documentation of our weathered tools, Haq’s exhibition also offers encouragement for technological advancement. Haq notes that many of the tools he has photographed have “sort of disappeared in history.” For this reason, he wanted to bring them back into the public eye to remind viewers that man has, time and time again, used technology to solve modern issues. As Haq puts it, “The relics are not as useful, but the concept that we can solve these [problems is]… We need to carry forward.”
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“Relics & Industrious” appears June 20 – July 24 at Aker Imaging Gallery. 4708 Lillian Street. Artist reception Saturday, June 20, 6-8 pm. More information at www.akergallery.com.