Page 6-Wednesday, May 23, 1979-The Michigan Daily
Wrestles with abstract and loses
By ERIC GRAIG style reminiscent of some of the work of
"Photographic Mandalas" is the Minor White, Pelletier seeks to
enigmatic title of a new exhibition by challenge the ability of the viewer to
William Pelletier at the Blixt Gallery in see what is hidden in the pattern in a
Nickels Arcade. The photographs span stone or log-but White is better at it.
Pelletier's nine-year photographic White's photographs really do coax the
career and reflect on his interest in imagination to decipher apparently
Eastern philosophy; he calls them random patterns. The viewer is enter-
mandalas after the Tibetan term for an tained and intrigued, and, as in an ink
arrangement of objects of meditation. blot test, each viewer leaves with a dif-
Pelletier's photographs are mostly of ferent impression. Unfortunately,
abstract patterns and forms in natural many of Pelletier's images fail in their
objects such as wood and stone. In a bid to spark the imagination.
Pelletier's work, however, does raise
some interesting questions about the
potential of abstract photography.
More than any other art form,
photography depends on the elements
of time and realism. They are both
salient components of photographic
imagery that photographers should.
strive to make full use of them. The
painter is hard-pressed to make use of
realism; it is not one of the stronger
elements of his art.
Consequently, abstraction is not a
very powerful tool in photography. This
is not to say that it has no place in
photography-it does, and Minor
White's work makes interesting use of
the technique. But generally it is a tool
best left to artists in other media.
When Pelletier works within the
frame of two-dimensional patterns in
nature, his photographs are interesting,
at least. When he tries to introduce
symbolism, his images fall short. His
symbols are so obtuse that his prints
seem to be images of nothing. In his
three-dimensional scenes, his com-
position and graphic ability cannot save
the images. They are, in many cases,
awkward and distracting. Even the
quality of his prints is questionable;
several of them lack sufficient contrast.
Pelletier's work with motion is
equally poor. He uses slow shutter
speeds and flowing water to show
movement, but his work lacks both
beauty and, (again), symbolic interest.
His compositions, here too, are often
awkward. He shows us motion but
doesn't tell us anything about it.
Sometimes it seems as if he is just
demonstrating the law of gravity.
Pelletier says that he means his
photographs to be mysterious. But his
"mysteries" don't lead anywhere.
There are no puzzles for the viewer to
enjoy and no insight to be gained from
But then again, serious photography
buffs might want to have a look- at
Pelletier's pictures, for there is no
doubt that the artist himself is serious,
and well-intentioned art is always wor-
th seeing. If nothing else, the exhibit
raises some interesting questions about
the limits of the photographic medium.
banquet of excitement
By JOHN SINKEVICS
Supertramp has always appealed to serious rock music lovers-those
aficianados who demand technical precision and well-phrased lyrical
arrangements. Perhaps that's why the group's sellout concert at Cobo Hall in
Detroit Sunday night was a surprise.
Although the group played flawlessly for two hours and 15 minutes, the band
members did not hesitate to provide bizarre moments of humor and satire during
many of their most thought-provoking and serious numbers.
For example, during "Jimmy Cream," a song about a man on the verge of in-
sanity, a roadie dressed as a gorilla danced on stage with a seven-foot tall banana.
In another number, four unidentified individuals dressed in top-hats, tails, black
spectacles and monstrous noses, provided background vocals.
RICK DAVIES, keyboardist, and Roger Hodson,;lead guitarist (the two founders of the
group), played with intensity, but proved they are much better composers than
musicians. The songs were nearly exact duplicates of the recorded versions, and
lacked the typical-and desirable-spontaneity of a live concert.
But what the group lacked in spontaneity, it made up in showmanship. During
"Rudy," a song from Supertramp's acclaimed LP, Crime of the Century, curtains
behind the stage opened to reveal a movie screen with a film of a train barreling
down the tracks.
As the tempo and volume of the music increased, the film of the train was
speeded up, and because the camera put the audience in the driver's seat, the ef-
fect was thrilling.
THE GROUP utilized the movie screen throughout the last half of its show, com-
bining film, photo slides, and various lighting effects quite unlike traditional light
shows or electronic gimmickry employed by other groups in concert.
Humorous antics aside, Supertramp takes it political views quite seriously.
"Don't you ever feel as if the authorities have a certain hold over you?" asked
saxophonist John Helliwell before the group played its recently released single,
"The Logical Song." "Well, that's what we wrote this song about."
Many of the slides used figures from history such as Martin Luther King, Win-
ston Churchill, and Adolf Hitler in the context of world destruction and political
responsibility. For the encore, Supertramp played "Crime of the Century," com-
plete with an astounding representation of our own Mother Earth exploding-the
end result of a confused, repressive society.
Above all, Spertramp served its audience more than just a "Breakfast in
America" (the tile of their most recent LP, currently as number one on the
nation'scharts). The group gave it food for thought-a creative, opinionated glim-
pse into the structure of our society.