Do you know where your old photos are?

Tonight at Mastodon Mesa—the coolest gallery inside the Pacific Design Center—there’s a brand new art show called “Private Investigation” focusing on found photography.

“As the sands of time begin to bury all physical media, the increased rarity of found photo prints makes their mysteries more urgent than ever,” write curators Graham Kolbeins and Mya Stark in their show description/thesis.

But more importantly: these could be your photos.

Aren’t you curious where your old snapshots that you lost in that move that one time are now? They may be art. They may be revealing your secret fetishes to all the world (well, L.A. County anyhow). They may be selling for $10,000,000,000!

Well, probably not. But if this opening is anything like the last one, then this should be a great party.

From the Mastodon Mesa web site:

Come check out Private Investigation at Mastodon Mesa on Wednesday, September 15th!

Celebrating the participatory mystery of found photography, Private Investigation brings together the work of 25 amazing artists inspired by found photos, alongside thousands of forgotten snapshots from Mark Kologi’s immense collection. Join us in sorting through decades of anonymous memories– it’s up to you to decode their multifarious mysteries!

Featuring: Ben Aqua, Beastburn, Derrick Beckles (TV Carnage), Jordan Crane, Stephanie Davidson, Kirk Demarais, Steven Andrew Garcia, Adan de la Garza, Desiree Holman, Michael C. Hsiung, Parker Ito, Nathan Jones, Mike Kitchell, Sage Keeler, Mark Kologi, Roz Leibowitz, Suki-Rose Otter, Paul Pescador, The Perlorian Brothers, Christian Ramirez, Benjy Russell,Tanner America, Brad Troemel, Richard Vergez, Adam Villacin and Melissa Wallen.

Private Investigation

As the sands of time begin to bury all physical media, the increased rarity of found photo prints makes their mysteries more urgent than ever. Both aesthetically and tangibly, they embody a past that’s quickly slipping away—but beyond base nostalgia, each anonymous snapshot begs the viewer to answer a bevy of intimately personal and broadly social questions, quietly embedded within their fading emulsion. We glean what we can from these fragments of faces and places, fit them like awkward puzzle pieces into a mental approximation of society, and our imaginations are trusted to fill in the gaps. What primordial instinct instills within us such curiosity for the Other, only exacerbated by the inherent inscrutability of these benign microscopic cases? In Private Investigation we are inviting artists to turn the underlying emotions of found photography outward in their work, inviting viewers to participate in the mystery-solving process and delve into their own tendencies to project narratives onto these artifacts.

While printed photography rapidly vanishes, digital photography’s presence grows exponentially. Found photos, once relegated to the shoeboxes of scattered private collectors, then shared through the limited mass media of curated zines and art books, today proliferatewithout restriction in cyberspace. Context-free photos from all time periods are distributed through blogs, image searches, and social systems like Tumblr, FFFFOUND! and Individuals and niches are democratically determining the natural lifespan of found .JPGs. In the process, found images fuse with the personal identities of the “finders” and stand in as a form of communication. How does this technological and social shift effect the aura of these photographs, and what does it mean for the future of photography?

Found photos will serve as the inspiration and springboard for a broad spectrum of multi-disciplinary artists in Private Investigation. Under the crushing weight of a million memories divorced from the minds of their rememberers, this tactile and experiential show is an invitation to explore the mysteries of voyeurism, collection, appropriation, and anonymity.

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