THE ARTWORK OF RICHARD HEIPP
ELECTRO-PHYSIOLOGY SERIES (2015-2016)
Heipp rediscovered the source images used in a series of ink on paper drawings at a portrait exhibition on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2015. The exhibition included selections from an 1862 photographic portfolio titled The Workings of Human Physiognomy by the French neurologist Duchenne de Boulogne. Boulogne created the portfolio in collaboration with the photographer Adrien Tournachon who was the brother of the better-known photographer, Nadar. Heipp was “struck by the strange intersection of science and art,” a theme he explored in several of his public art commissions. As he explains, “these pictures reflected a space where the intersection of scientific inquiry, time, condition, and context have come to be accepted as ‘high’ art.” Heipp describes how he “was once again intrigued by how the actual display of the objects in the art museum atmosphere affected my response to the object and image” and as a consequence he was interpreting the image through the lens of the museum.
Heipp’s completed drawings, when combined with the laser cut text, became a new index of the original indexes. He created hand-made, illusionistic pictures that mimicked the original photographic plates. Additionally, each drawing includes a set of reflection accents representing points of light that are painted over the drawn image. These accents depict the gallery lights as they appeared on the picture frame’s glass. These pinpointed, illuminated interruptions reinforce the indexical nature of the drawings and the effect of the art institution’s method of display.