Trailblazing Photography Explores Alternatives: Some of Today's Most Creative Fine Art Photographers Are Turning to Alternative Processes and Techniques

By Meyers, Laura | Art Business News, November 2004 | Go to article overview

Trailblazing Photography Explores Alternatives: Some of Today's Most Creative Fine Art Photographers Are Turning to Alternative Processes and Techniques


Meyers, Laura, Art Business News


From its beginnings, the art of photography has been driven by scientific and technological innovation, while its practitioners have sought to record and transform the world. But as our world itself is increasingly high-tech, and as photography has turned digital, a growing number of fine art photographers have adopted imaginative approaches to image-making.

These artists are experimenting with pinhole cameras to capture mysterious scenes; X-rays to pierce through to the elemental core of objects; and, reviving the very earliest of photography techniques--photograms to make pictures pared down to the most basic infrastructure of the medium: light, objects and paper.

"There are many, many ways to produce photographic imagery, and I would imagine that a lot of them have yet to be explored," says New York-based artist Adam Fuss, who is best known for his contemporary, cameraless photograms inspired by the "sun prints" of early 19th-century photographers William Henry Fox Talbot and Anna Atkins. Fuss' photograms have reproduced water droplets, birds in flight, moving light and even a trail of snakes moving across light-sensitive paper, dusted with talcum powder.

Fuss is not the only contemporary artist who has abandoned mechanical and digital cameras. "I love the photography but I don't love the cam era," explains Martha Casanave, a fine art photographer specializing in pinhole photography and photograms in Monterey, CA. "For me, the simpler the better. Pinhole is about as simple as you can get--and photograms eliminate the camera altogether."

Boston artist Jesseca Ferguson also favors "primitive photography, handmade cameras and handmade images" for her experiments making pinhole photographs as ambrotypes on glass and on Polaroid film. Southern California photographer Jerry Burchfield makes his "lumen prints" photograms by placing plant specimens from the Amazon onto outdated photographic paper and leaving them to bake in the tropical sun, resulting in an image influenced in part by the plant juices.

Reeve simplifies his pinhole cameras to bare essence: photographic paper itself, folded and constructed into a box that is kept in the dark until the moment of exposure.

Today, says Tom Vogel, director of the Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York, many photographers like Fuss, Casanave, Reeve, Burchfield, and Ferguson "are trying to express their creativity in a different way other than just by snapping a picture."

"Indeed" adds Susan Spiritus, owner of the Susan Spiritus Gallery in Newport Beach, CA, "artists do try to do something unique and different, not standing in the footprint of someone who came before."

Mimicking the Ancients

Of course, many of these experiments actually mimic, technically, the footprints of many who came before--some in ancient times. Photographer Abelardo Morell's just-released book, "Camera Obscura" (Bullfinch Press, September 2004), celebrates a phenomenon known since ancient times. In 300 B.C., the Chinese philosopher Mo Ti used a camera obscura--literally, Latin for darkened room--to record an inverted image. Aristotle, Euclid and the 10th-century Arabian scholar Hassan ibn Hassan (also known as Ibn al Haitam) utilized camera obscura, as did artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Jan Vermeer, Carravagio and Canaletto. This marvel is really a simple law of optics: if you blacken a box, whether it is matchbox-size or an entire room, and then pierce the wall covering with a tiny hole, the image of the outside world will appear on the opposite wall, upside down.

Camera obscura technology has been used in astronomy to study solar eclipses and in spy work to make surreptitious surveillance cameras. In the Middle Ages, pinholes in the ceiling of many early European cathedrals were used to tell time.

In the art world, pinhole photographers today are making all kinds of pinhole cameras and using them to create all types of imagery. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Trailblazing Photography Explores Alternatives: Some of Today's Most Creative Fine Art Photographers Are Turning to Alternative Processes and Techniques
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.