< Speculators

Nothing Escapes His Eye, Not Even Himself

Kenneth Baker
San Francisco Chronicle
Saturday, June 3, 2006

Bill Dane's photographs, like those at the Jack Fischer Gallery, often make people think that he exploits the latest image-altering technology.

But Dane shoots "straight" as a point of pride, though he breaks as many rules of "good photography" as possible in the process.

The pictures slam together information from two or more incompatible viewpoints. Most look through shop windows into the images and other trappings they contain and into the reflections or shadows the photographer and his surroundings cast.

"San Francisco, 2005," like most of the pictures titled only by place and date, has us look over a swimming pool at a bleak suburban landscape just after sunset. It also has us observing an out-of-focus urban hillside in full daylight. Dane's hatted silhouette, camera in hand, serves as connective tissue between these views.

Dane has an amazing eye for collisions of information that throw into relief the artifice of photography and the folly of our desire to trust it.

In "San Francisco, 2004" he captured from behind a sleeping man slouched within a plate-glass bus shelter. Flattened by shadow and reflections, the man's figure looks like a more-than-half-sapped inflatable.

A second "San Francisco, 2005" finds just the right angle on a puckered poster image of a woman's back to make us think for a moment that we see her submerged face-down in shallow water.

Shop-window surrealism had quite a run in the 20th century, from Andre Kertesz and Eugene Atget to William Eggleston and Lee Friedlander. But Dane finds in the same vein the image crack-ups in our memories and fantasies already turned inside out.