Modus Tollens (Woodwose)
6 photogravure images printed from copper plates in a single color on Arches En-Tout-Cas with letterpress title page, essay by Samantha Rippner, and colophon
Edition of 10
Paper size: 11 ¾ x 14 inches
Plate size: 7 ¼ x 10 inches
printed by Adrian Gonzalez at Flying Horse Editions
published by P.S. Marlowe
“The shadowy forest captured in the six photogravures that make up Glen Baldridge’s Modus Tollens –Woodwose strikes at our greatest fears and anxieties. Serving as the backdrop for sinister acts in countless fairy tales and horror films, the woods represent the collective nightmare of our youth. Unlike landscape imagery which has traditionally served as the background for more pressing human interaction or has shown the sublime grandeur of the natural world, Baldridge’s images are presented close-up, tightly cropped and seemingly devoid of human life. They highlight the claustrophobia of the forest, a place where we are not safe, especially under the cover of night.
In homage to found footage horror films such as The Blair Witch Project, Baldridge offers us entry into his images through an occasional break or path in the brush. We become first-person observers or witnesses to an event that has yet to take place, struggling to adjust in the darkness and focus our eye on what is in front of us. The immediacy of the images and our unease with the unknown cast a lingering threat over our viewing experience. Their graininess and rich range of black tones, offset by illuminating flashes of white light, lend an air of authenticity to their spectral quality, which culminates in a gauzy apparition floating among a delicate web of tree branches.
Baldridge used a low resolution game camera set up in the woods of Exeter, Rhode Island to produce these images, removing his hand from their making and relying on the motion of somebody or something else to generate the shot. Without any visual evidence, it is difficult to know what activated the camera though Baldridge hypothesizes a theory in his titling of the series. Could it be the Woodwose or wild man of the woods? This half man, half animal creature, a mythological figure popular in Medieval art who figured prominently in the work of Albrecht Dürer, is a distant cousin to such pop culture phenomena as the Yeti, Bigfoot or Sasquatch. The legend of the Woodwose spans more than 500 years - from Dürer to Baldridge, from mythological figure to B-movie star – yet the debate surrounding its validity still seems to roil. As Baldridge questions in the flawed logic of Modus Tollens: If we don’t see it, then does it not exist?
While Baldridge’s pop culture references add an element of humor and kitsch to this series, the underlying anxiety associated with what lurks or takes place in the woods at night, what is real or warranted and what is not, lies at the heart of these images. They seem a prescient metaphor for the trepidation being stoked by real life wild men today.”