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Hayes, Siri - 2018.9.1

Siri Hayes

Aperture 2017
giclee print
77 x 77 cm
Purchased by the Monash Business School 2017

This set of six photographs is part of the series Loading, produced by Siri Hayes for an exhibition at Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, in 2017. The title of the series refers to the ‘loading’ icons that appear on networked screens when files are in the process of being downloaded. More specifically, Hayes focuses on the loading icon employed by Instagram, the photo-sharing social media service that was launched in 2010.

When the transmission of a photograph to a user’s device is delayed due to poor reception, Instagram displays a blurry version of the image with an animated circle graphic to let the user know that the file is being processed. Hayes created her Loading series by capturing screen shots of these transitional Instagram icons and printing each as a large still photograph.

Overturning the notion that an out-of-focus photograph is flawed or deficient in some way, Hayes presents blurry tableaux as complete artworks. The circular graphics no longer revolve in anticipation. Instead, they provide the perfectly square prints with a post-minimalist geometry that invites the viewer to engage rather than wait for a prolonged unveiling.

Each work in the series also has its own lyrical title, such as Variation on the Indigo Zone Ruler or Blue Lady. These titles encourage viewers to contemplate the individual images as if they are expressionistic paintings, designed to stimulate the imagination through sensations of colour and shape. And Hayes name-drops artists, such as Malevich and Morandi, into some titles to stress this allusion to painting.

As a reaction against the high-definition clarity of digital photography, which became increasingly prevalent during the early decades of the twenty-first century, many photographic artists have turned to traditions of abstract, lo-fi and handmade photographic practice. A number of Hayes’ contemporaries began developing their own painterly photographic styles by exploring the possibilities of camera-less photographs (such as lumen prints and photograms) or by experimenting with the alchemy of darkroom processes.

While Hayes is certainly aware of this trend in contemporary photography, it would be misleading to characterise Loading in these terms. It is more tempting to think of this series as an ironic parody of a popular trend. Hayes’ blurry photographs are more like Duchampian ready-mades than expressive forms of lyrical abstraction. And this series occupies her oeuvre as a stand-alone conceptual project, rather than one instalment in an extended exploration of formalist possibilities in photography.

Loading does, however, reflect Hayes’ sustained interest in processes of image production and interpretation. She often uses photography to document non-photographic creative processes such as yarn-bombing, life drawing classes, musical performances or her children’s art play. In these series, the camera functions as both a witness and participant in an expanded field of creativity. Hayes has also embroidered photographic prints themselves, to embed the images within the crafty processes that they document.

Like much of Hayes’ practice, Loading invites the viewer to linger in a visual space where meaning is emerging and perpetually open-ended.

Stephen Zagala is World Cultures Research Fellow at the South Australian Museum.

From the series
Hayes, Siri - 2018.9.2
Siri Hayes

Blue lady 2017
giclee print
77 x 77 cm
Purchased by the Monash Business School 2017

https://www.monash.edu/__data/assets/image/0012/2189586/Hayes,-Siri-2018.9.3-resized.jpg
Siri Hayes

Morandi II 2017
giclee print
77 x 77 cm
Purchased by the Monash Business School 2017

Hayes, Siri - 2018.9.4
Siri Hayes

Blush 2017
giclee print
77 x 77 cm
Purchased by the Monash Business School 2017

Hayes, Siri - 2018.9.5
Siri Hayes

Variation on the indigo zone ruler 2017
giclee print
77 x 77 cm 
Purchased by the Monash Business School 2017

Hayes, Siri - 2018.9.6
Siri Hayes

Radiate 2017
giclee print
77 x 77 cm
Purchased by the Monash Business School 2017