The Difficulties of Nonsense
In the "Curiosity" issue of Aperture magazine, Sarah Bay Gachot writes that Robert Cumming's interest in photography spawned from his interest in perception: "Cumming wanted the viewer to get to know, personally, the process of perception-perhaps to ward off the onset of visual inertia. The pictures unfold slowly over time; the more you look, the more you see." The Difficulties of Nonsense features Cumming's conceptual black-and-white and color photographs from the 1970s, revealing his fascination with illusion and trickery. From his base in Los Angeles, Cumming made functional-looking constructions, rendered useless and created primarily to be photographed with his 8-by-10 camera. Playing with props, proportions, unusual angles, light, and mirrors, the images invite viewers to look in-and then to second-guess what they see. As the first publication to survey this significant series, The Difficulties of Nonsense serves as a touchstone for contemporary artists and for those interested in artwork that came out of Los Angeles in the 1970s. With an essay by Sarah Bay Gachot and an interview by David Campany, this monograph pays homage to a time when Cumming, and many in the photographic community, worked to playfully push the boundaries of photography and narrative.