Corey Escoto (b. 1983, Amarillo, TX) is a multidisciplinary artist who has lived in Pittsburgh since 2010. Part of the 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial, this exhibition brings together the artist’s recent work in photography and sculpture within an immersive environment to create a layered exploration of illusion and artifice.
The works in Corey Escoto: Sleight of Hand include Escoto’s “experimental polaroids,” which he produces by covering the light-sensitive film surface with hand-cut light-blocking stencils. Shooting from life and from images on his computer screen, Escoto composes illusionistic geometric forms from fragmented impressions of various places and objects. He flattens reality into pattern, texture, and shade, folding many moments into one image while introducing a time-intensive element of hand craftsmanship to the automatic photographic process. This body of work reflects the artist’s interest in the possibilities that exist for the short time that analog photography lives alongside digital imaging technologies and the Internet.
Escoto’s sculptures bring the planar forms imagined in his photographs into three dimensions. While the photographs evoke depth, the sculptures emphasize surface, incorporating “faux” materials that mimic the texture of marble, wood, and fabric. The sculptures are installed against a large painted backdrop modeled on the seamless green-screen backgrounds used by special-effects artists. This “set piece” interrupts the spatial logic of the gallery and suggests a precarious, manufactured sense of reality.
Taking a multifaceted approach, Escoto considers the production and consumption of illusion, in terms of what we accept as photographic truth and, more broadly, how we distinguish fact from fiction in an ever more mediated environment. By disrupting the polaroid—a familiar and yet seemingly magical technology—he reveals how readily we suspend our disbelief.