(b. 1954; resides South Bend, IN)
Working in a pathology lab, I photograph human cells with a microscope and combine those images with figurative postures as a way of fostering a dialectic relationship between the visible and the sub-visible. - Richard Gray
For his series Human Factors, Richard Gray uses images of tissue samples to border and frame human figures postured in positions of balance and control. The anonymity of the figures is assured by the blur of soft focus and the interference of textured glass, while the gymnastic poses of these ideal types suggest early photographic motion studies. The sepia tone of the images likewise references an earlier era, and their style of oval and non-rectangular framing is reminiscent of the matting in turn of the century portrait cases. Even the tissue samples enjoy an early twentieth century connection: whether close to the original color of the histology stain (used to diagnose the tissue samples) or digitally enhanced by the photographer for greater contrast, the hue and pattern of the cells resemble marbled paper. The scientific photograph itself is something with a lengthy legacy, but Gray’s interest in using it to explore identity and how representation shapes it is as contemporary a concern as the Human Genome Project which first inspired this series.
Human Factors has been exhibited at the 2005 Internationale Fototage Festival, Mannheim, Germany; Miami University Art Museum; McDonough Museum of Art, Youngstown, Ohio; and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Gray holds a BS in graphic arts from Illinois State University, Normal (1976) and an MFA in photography (1982) from Rochester Institute of Technology. He is also the recipient of fellowships from Arts Midwest/National Endowment for the Arts and the Indiana Arts Commission. His work is part of the collections of institutions including Princeton University Art Museum; Museu Nacional de Arte Moderna, Porto, Portugal; and McIntosh Gallery, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada. He is both an associate professor of photography and the director of the Center for Creative Computing at the University of Notre Dame.