Since the late nineteenth century, the technical capability of photography to accurately describe and convincingly distort the visual world has exponentially increased. It is only now, with widespread media literacy, that the distortion side of the photographic equation has gained popular acceptance. However, the art of photography has long played against the public’s deep-seated documentary expectation, converting the truth of appearances to the insight of expression: a unique intermingling of reality’s aspect and its interpretation.
Cindy Bernard’s watershed work, Security Envelope Grid, is about the nature of proof, that is, what we take for granted as being true or necessary, and on what grounds. She uses a compelling trident of belief systems: photography, art and commerce, brought together through the use of a most unexpected source. The designs that line security envelopes to protect their financial or confidential contents from inspection are recast into 8×10 inch black and white photograph enlargements hung in a 9 x 35 foot grid of 100 images. This installation work interferes with assumptions of truth, depicting the financial sub-strata of society and culture as a standardized net of abstract patterns and familiar signs. Sophisticated and convincingly simple, Security Envelope Grid is an inescapable but never culpable arrangement that holds its secrets with the perfunctory formality of the envelopes from which it evolved. – Trudy Wilner Stack, from Document Enclosed, 1993