Contingence is a series of photographic prints that into which Michael has made systematic
incisions. Starting with a standard 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of white paper on a light table which he then
cut to be square, Michael made an incision in that paper from the center to the bottom right
corner, then photographed it. Then he made another incision just below the first and
photographed the same paper with two incisions, and so on, until there was no more space on
the page. Michael then printed each of these photographs and made incisions in the printed
photograph itself, using the same logic as the original incisions, but this time cutting from the
origin of the original incisions to the top right corner, thus creating a gesture that is contingent
upon the original incision that preceded the photographic moment.
These sheets of paper are archivally mounted to float within the frame, and the frames remain
unglazed. As such, the paper responds to the humidity in the air, sometimes causing the real
incisions to come alive with ripples and curves, other times flattening to become almost
invisible. One notable condition of this phenomenon is that no matter what the conditions, the
photographed incisions are more visually apparent than the actual incisions in the paper.
Another element to consider in this work is that the original incision and its contingent
counterpart overlap in the final form, creating an overlap that would not be physically
possible if the two incisions were made on one sheet of paper. Gaillard likes to consider
this as a symbolic referent to the relationship between memory and lived experience, the
two interdependent , forever linked, but never fully integrated.
As with many of these systematic endeavors, chance always manages to slip into the operation,
and is very much a part of the motivation. In this case, it took 27 incisions to reach the bottom
of the page, and thus the idea for the three squares of nine frames was possible. The green
color and the halo effect is an artifact of the way an old handheld digital camera responded to
the fluorescent light of the light table—another chance event that Michael chose to embrace,
thus creating a spatial effect that adds to the mystery and intrigue of this work.