Jeff Whetstone

May 17 - June 10, 2013

CAM/lab presents a video work in progress by artist Jeff Whetstone.

“…the solidity, the obscurity, the density of things closed in upon themselves have powers of truth that they owe not to light, but to the gaze that passes over them, around them, and gradually into them…” (Michal Foucault, Birth of the Clinic)

CAM/lab presents a video work-in-progress by artist Jeff Whetstone. FRAME / ABLATE is a ten minute video projection in which Whetstone examines edible plants and human tissue through a Scanning Electron Microscope, an instrument made for scientific analysis. Instead of using light to make the objects visible, the electron microscope showers the object with electrons. The resulting image is precise, yet grainy, flickering, and monochromatic like early cinematic experiments. Whetstone scans across these samples, sometimes at a magnification of 10,000x, moving the sensor at a few microns per minute, transforming tissue into surreal landscapes the writhe and mutate, continually being destroyed and reformed.

At these extreme magnifications, the electron beam bombards these delicate landscapes with radiation and eventually dematerializes them. The greater the power of magnification, the more completely the matter transforms. Scientists use the term Ablation to describe the process when electrons from the beam displace the electrons from the sample and transfigure its essential structure. Even though this instrument is immensely precise, the way it records a sample is anything but objective. Scientific images are generally regarded as naturalistic. They are intended to depict reality with unadulterated accuracy. Whetstone’s work questions that notion, examines how the human gaze, even when intended to analyze, is a narrative filter.

In FRAME/ABLATE, the matter seen is transformed by the act of seeing. The scientific tool that facilitates such an exact point of view becomes dislodged from its analytic function. Time and matter likewise become unhinged from objectivity and meld with the artist’s internal narratives. The object of our gaze is continually in flux, and forever linked to our desires to find elusive truths.

Stephen Vitiello, Musical Score
Wallace Ambrose, CHANL Lab, microscopy supervisor
Carrie Donnelly, CHANL Lab, training
Georgia Titcomb, Assistant

CAM Raleigh's newest exhibition program, CAM/lab, features short-run exhibitions of works-in-progress, promoting our guiding principles of being "freshly made, facing forward and changing together". The forum allows artists to gain valuable artistic feedback from a larger audience.

The exhibition Jeff Whetstone—FRAME/ABLATE, is curated by Kate Thompson Shafer, interim director and coordinated at CAM Raleigh by Jeff Bell, lead preparator. CAM Raleigh is a collaboration between the Contemporary Art Foundation, the community and North Carolina State University’s (NC State) College of Design.

CAM Raleigh is funded in part by the City of Raleigh based on recommendations of the Raleigh Arts Commission.

Opening Preview Celebrations and Exhibition Related Public Programs

Opening Reception
Friday, May 17, 2013
6:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.
The opening reception for Jeff Whetstone—FRAME/ABLATE is in conjunction with CAM Raleigh’s May Third Friday program that includes after-hours access to the galleries, music by local DJs, and a cash bar. The reception is free with museum admission. Free for Members.

First Friday
June 7, 2013
6:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m.
Join artist Jeff Whetstone for an artist talk followed by a Q&A session. 
CAM Raleigh's First Friday program includes after-hours access to the galleries, new hands-on activities at the creation station, music by local DJs, food trucks, and a cash bar. First Fridays are free thanks to individual and corporate monthly sponsors.