Championing The Anti-Digital


The Things That Seem and Those That Are:
Reshaping Photography through Alternative Processes

From a Panopticon Gallery press release:
The things that seem and those that are, is in part Machiavellian. It’s a quote paraphrased, but it also goes on to describe the alternative and historical photographic processes through which each of these artist’s works. The key term is processes – the works are not instantaneous, rather time-consuming processes that are anti-digital in nature.

We will have a variety of alternative processes on display, from cyanotypes to tintypes, ambrotypes to platinum palladium prints, and images created with pinhole cameras – each unique image baring the marks of their makers.

I had the chance to ask Jason Landry, owner of Panopticon Gallery, a few questions about alternative process:
PW: There seems to be a resurgence among fine arts photographers in incorporating alternative and non-digital processes in the creation of their work. Am I right about this?
JL: Photographer’s are always trying to find new and unique and or old and unique ways to stand out among their peers. Retro is cool and it happens in many industries. Vinyl records made a comeback and so did old video games, t-shirts and TV shows.  I’m a fan of alternative processes and the unique ways that photographer’s experiment with creating a work of art.  Just last week I was blown away after seeing Gretjen Helene’s liquid emulsion photographs on the inside of an eggshell over at the Photographic Resource Center.
PW: From your discussions with the artists featured in the exhibition, do you sense any primary motivation behind their desire to explore alternative processes?
JL:  I don’t usually ask the photographer’s why they use certain processes. I feel the right process and or camera will always find the maker if they work long enough.  From what I see, these artists have an inherent nature about them to create beyond just pushing a button. I see it in the way they present themselves – I see it in their portfolios.  The processes are labor intensive and in many cases, they, the photographer’s need to be more than just an artist that wants to create something – they need to also be a photographic mixologist. They have to have patience and can deal with trial and error – that’s part of the process. I have nothing against someone who just wants to use a camera and take a photograph with film or digital capture.  There’s just something special about a photographer that wants to fight the system.  Photography, like life, has what I call a Survival of the Fittest theory attached to it. I think it’s great that photographer’s fight the system even when digital technologies have practically put the film industry out of business. Just when you think a process has become extinct, some photographer is going to get a cool idea and bring it back.

Photographers selected for this exhibition are:
Lindsey Beal, Jesseca Ferguson, Christopher James, DM Witman, Jenn Libby, Ron Cowie, Julia Cart, Jeanne Wells, Nikki Segarra, Douglas Ethridge, S. Gayle Stevens, Elizabeth Ellenwood, Arista Slater-Sandoval

The facts:
The Things That Seem and Those That Are:
Reshaping Photography through Alternative Processes
February 28 through April 1, 2013
Opening reception: Thursday, February 28th from 5:30-7:30pm.
Panopticon Gallery
Inside Hotel Commonwealth
502c Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA  02215

Photo above left and below: Jenn Libby, Dinosaur, 2013

Jesseca Ferguson, Bird Skeleton, 2005

Ron Cowie, Lisa’s Glasses