There's still more than a week left to catch The Edge of Vision: Abstraction in Contemporary Photography at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. The show, which closes on March 27, is a fascinating exploration of modern abstract photography that challenges the very definition of what a photograph is. The subject matter can be tough to chew without a little assist from someone who knows the material, so if you're interested in the show and have the time tomorrow, it'd be worth it to sit in on the lunchtime lecture and slideshow presentation by photographer Bill Armstrong, whose "Mandala 450," one of a series of images from a series he calls Infinity, is part of the show. Armstrong's specialty is non-representational photography, and since 1997 he's been taking photos that are fuzzy, colorful and out of focus; he sets his camera's focusing ring at infinity and manipulates the images until they're barely recognizable as anything more than vague approximations of whatever they might have once represented. Looking at them seems to make the eyes instinctively squint and try to focus harder - which is exactly what Armstrong wants his viewer to do. "The nature of visual perception intrigues me," he says in a statement about Infinity posted on his website. "The eye continually tries to resolve these images, but is unable to do so, and how that is unsettling."
Armstrong's presentation is free, and it takes place at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum tomorrow (March 18) at 12:30 p.m.
The Cornell also has scored a big show opening in April. The museum says that the Consulate General of Japan in Miami has chosen it as the only Florida venue to host an exhibit of interpretations of the work of Toshusai Sharaku, an 18th-century artist considered to be one of Japan's greatest woodblock print makers. Even if you're not familiar with the name, you're probably familiar with Sharaku's work: His portraits of Kabuki actors and sour-faced Japanese wrestlers illustrate his subjects in grimacing caricature, and his style has been widely imitated. Sharaku Interpreted by Japan's Contemporary Artists, will consist of 28 posters created by graphic designers and 23 art objects that were created using Sharaku's work as an influence. The show opens at the Cornell on April 16 and will be up through June 12.