Verisimilitude photography is an exploration of the difference between realism and real. It expands the established perception of a photograph as flat and bounded by four sides. By adding a dimensional quality, verisimilitude photographs can appear to be identical to their subject.
The concept of framing is also expanded. In common with the historical role of the frame, verisimilitude frames protect and enhance display but also support the push from realism to real.
I want to make photographs that are so real they are mistaken for the objects they depict.
— Daniel Brevick
PROOF OF CONCEPT
I tested the Verisimilitude concept by creating a photograph titled Triple Threat. I took pictures of asbestos floor tiles, a lead paint-covered scrap of wood, and three rusty screws. I physically assembled the five photographs.
I labeled it as photography and hung the piece in the SEMVA COOP Gallery. I got a call from a SEMVA worker - about an angry asbestos inspector, and this note was left in my folder. Several SEMVA COOP members complained to the director, worried the photo violated a SEMVA rule concerning art that contains dangerous materials.
It did not.
It was just a photograph.
Photography has had nearly 200 years of viewer perception, reinforcing that photographs are flat and bounded by four sides. Each piece of Triple Threat is an assembly of layers that match the thickness of the items depicted. For example, the photograph of the lead paint-covered scrap of wood adheres to an actual piece of wood that matches the thickness of the original. It's then laser cut to match the shape; thus, the photograph isn't bounded by four sides. The same is true for the asbestos floor tiles. There are five tiles in the piece, and the gap between each is real.
I thought I would give away the game by labeling the piece as photography. Despite that, some of the SEMVA staff questioned the piece, as did an actual asbestos inspector, which was proof of concept for me.