Aquick trip to the photography section of Powell's Books, or repeated visits to enough photo-centric art galleries, will make one thing abundantly clear to you: That creating casual, color photographs of mundane objects appears to be so effortless that young artists from all over the world have gorged themselves on the trend. The once-revolutionary (c. 1976) act of photographing, say, a barbecue pit or half-empty glass of milk, and dropping the film off for processing at a drugstore, has become the dominant photographic trope of our generation. It's a post-Walt Whitman, post-William Eggleston, post-pop exaltation of the beauty and significance of minor details, but quite often, one suspects the style's popularity is due to the relative ease with which one can create a passable work of art with this tossed-off, nonchalant style.
It's a bit of a bummer, then, to see a show by an artist as skilled and sensitive as Jason Fulford, who "does" the aforementioned genre as well or better than anybody out there, and to realize that the genre is so overplayed that it's damn near impossible to be truly moved or deeply impressed by what has now become a visual cliché.
Fulford indeed excels at this style of picture making. Like Walker Evans, Fulford has an uncanny ability to know precisely where to stand to get the best possible shot. He captures long, beautiful tones, and his sensibilities for discovering humorous and melancholy still-lifes and landscapes are top-notch. Fulford's photographs are rarely about one thing, but rather the relationship of two elements in each photograph: the swarming ants to the Dorito they're devouring; the yellow ball to the round drain it seems destined to plug; the sunny pathway to the man resting aside it. They're as poetic as they are beautiful (save for two or three less-inspired shots), and Fulford is a photographic force to be reckoned with.
But it's really hard to see this work and not feel that we've seen it a million times before, even if Fulford's is of a higher quality. Even though Fulford, who has a commendable audience thanks to his numerous book projects, helped to popularize and solidify this trend, he becomes a victim of it, as his own images become invisible in the murky sea of artistic shorthand.