3200K is a project devoted to printed matter and analog photography. It features works made with light-based media employing traditional analog photographic methods. Published weekly online and several times a year in print form, 3200K seeks to create exhibition and networking opportunities for emerging artists.
Untitled, 2011 from Blueberry Hill by Christopher Boyne
Blueberry Hill exposes private documents of experiences internal to its maker, bridging gaps between domestic albums and public archives. Formalities from amatuer photography, such as loosness of framing and slipping of focus, mix with those from the fine-art world. In its final installation, prints are combined with written text and moving images: Untitled functions as a still from this larger project it is culled from.
Photographers have worked with archival impulses since the first latent image was fixed in attempts to make permanent that which is ultimately ephemeral. As such documents, ostensibly photographs are taken with the need to reference something specific and tangible. But is this indexicality lost when the reference is towards that which is fleeting: a feeling, a meaning, a period of time? Perhaps, but this loss of intentioned indexicality opens possibilities within its ambiguity, allowing each viewer to project their own experiences onto the piece, re-assigning meaning and method. Through this re-assignement, the project is given life: the pictures are activated, the texts come alive. Suddenly, it all makes sense.
Christopher Boyne holds an MFA from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. His work has been exhibited throughout Canada and the United States and has recieved the Omer DeSerres Award for Excellent Achievement in Visual Arts and the Dick and Gretchen Evans Fellowship for Photography. He is currently based in Montreal and Halifax.
References to Dutch genre painting from the eighteenth century are palpable in Michael Powers’ photograph. A memento mori dangles from the top of the frame while fresh produce and reflective materials nod towards still-life traditions. Strong directional light reveals theatrically foregrounded action, a trademark of Flemish masters who ostensibly (according to research presented by David Hockney in his book Secret Knowledge) used lenses in the creation of their paintings.
The overt stylistic references in Louisa emphasize photography’s ultimate indebtedness towards painting, asking larger questions about where visual traditions began. Photography has been curtailed as a technological innovation, but its history ultimately includes that of all image making. The Dutch captured everyday moments thrown by lenses in paint before we were capable of chemically fixing pictures; were these paintings not the original snapshots? Ambiguity in images, such as Louisa, distill this conversation while expanding visual meaning further and creating new knowledge about photographic innovation.
Michael Powers holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Currently based in Boston, MA, he is a contributing photographer to Boston based Photography Collective, “Camera Records In Time.” His photographs have been exhibited throughout New England and published both online and in print.
Pathway to the Shire, disappearing photograph on silver gelatin paper by John Steck Jr
Beginning with pictures thrown by camera obscuras, artists and scientists have long lamented over how to make the latent image permanent. But even when fixed by chemicals on archival paper, a printed photograph has a finite lifespan of just a hundred years. Eventually they all fade, even as archivists and historians work to stop this process and make the ultimately ephemeral photograph permanent. John Steck Jr. short-circuits this cycle of image production, preservation and destruction by making images that are meant to disappear.
Just as the camera-obscura images of the early nineteenth century made by early proto-photographers, Pathway to the Shire continues to shift when exposed to light until nothing remains. Ultimately, it is an accelerated version of what will inevitably happen to all chemical photography. The delicate lines of tree branches and the passage beneath them mean less than the process: the image’s power pulls from its process and what it ultimately means to make a photograph that is meant to self-destruct. Through subverting the typical process of fixing images, John Steck Jr. brings attention to the ephemeral nature of all photography, questioning their cultural use as containers for memory and knowledge.
John Steck Jr. holds a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and is a current MFA candidate at the San Francisco Art Institute. Recent exhibits include Southern Exposure, The Center for Fine Art Photography and the 10x10 American Photobooks Exhibit at the Tokyo Institute of Photography (upcoming).
Small Magellanic Cloud, Plate D12135, 2012by Robin Myers
Robin Myers’s other-worldly photograph of the galaxies beyond our reach began as an early 20th century astronomical glass-plate from Harvard University’s archives that was reshot through a 20 by 24 inch Polaroid camera at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The original image is re-imagined and asks the question of photography’s ability to transcend the present in search of the future. In an ever-changing medium and technology like photography, process situates photographs into historical frameworks: as production methods become outmoded, the resultant shifts locate objects within timeframes. Conflating processes reveals disparities between eras and creates intertextual tensions that allow new meanings to arise.
This photograph concurrently holds multiplicities of eras, photographic technologies and institutions of higher learning, all of which become contradictory to one another. Divorced from its scientific archive at Harvard University, the careful gridding in the image’s background loses meaning. The feathering of the dyes and emulsion on the edges once belonged to a state-of-the-art process developed by Edwin Land at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But this process is defunct and the dated methodologies reveal photography’s impossibility of propelling us into the future, instead keeping us firmly rooted in the here-and-now.
Robin Myers holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and currently lives and works in Boston, MA. Recent exhibitions include shows at the Aviary Gallery and the Humble Arts Foundation’s Small Prints exhibition at Flash Forward Festival in Boston. Her photographs are featured in Conveyor Magazine’s Dark Matter issue.
The Oval Office 7/8th Scale “Johnson kept abreast of the news with a teletype machine and three screen simultaneously” Lyndon Baynes Johnson Museum & Library, 2012 by Elizabeth Shear
The Oval Office 7/8th Scale is not a photograph of the Oval Office, but a photograph of a model. Removed from its original referent (the Oval Office in the White House in Washington, DC during Johnson’s Presidency), the photograph provides interplay between depiction, reality and assumed knowledge. Photographing is just another method of copying (here an already copied model) and the result is not an image of historic significance, but rather a text that provides a chance to look at representation, its history and its role in our understanding of the past.
Postmodernism appropriates the past in fragments and Elizabeth Shear’s work borrows directly from history’s representation. But as postmodernist works become divorced from their actual historical moments because of conflicting information and signs within them, this photograph divorces us from the moment in history when Lyndon Banes Johnson was in office. The museum (through its model) provides a chance to experience what is no longer even a possibility: a glimpse into the past and a surrogate that simulates the experience we can’t have. The Oval Office 7/8th Scale becomes a critical examination of contemporary society’s willingness to accept the simulacra in place of the authentic as a real and useful model for learning about the thing it represents.
Elizabeth Shear holds a BFA from the Art Institute of Boston and has exhibited throughout the Boston area. Her book, The Shape of Things, is forthcoming.
Fire-Ravaged Valley, Gamla, Israel, 2010 by Beth Gilbert
(from the series Scarred Land)
Beth Gilbert’s images from the series Scarred Land build on a foundation of traditional landscape depiction. The sequence of photographs, carefully edited and framed, influences the knowledge we glean from looking. Historic references express the cyclical and perpetual nature of human devastation and its concurrent impact on the earth: here the gorged land, receding away with mountains that frame its destruction, recalls Roger Fenton’s Crimea and his photograph Valley of the Shadow of Death. Fenton’s photograph sports cannonballs that were strategically placed to create impact; Beth’s image substitutes the ravages of fire. Both were made with a documentary impulse to record the impact of war but 155 years separates them and their audience’s reactions.
Presented to a western audience today, Gilbert’s images function as most photographs of distant points do, providing information that constructs an understanding of a place most viewers have never visited. The vegetation growing from the hills undermines the obvious references to war, however, and raises questions. Is this destruction or regrowth? Are we falling or rising? The image refuses to answer, caught between ruined and re-grown, historic and contemporary.
Beth A. Gilbert holds a BA from Simmons College and will be pursuing an MFA in photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology beginning in the fall of 2013. Her photographs have been shown at the Danforth Museum of Art, the Boston Online Biennial, and the Hadassah Gallery in Jerusalem, Israel. Currently living and working in Boston, MA, she is a core member of C.R.I.T., a Boston area photography collective.
Whitney Wotkyns combines historical glass negatives with the RA-4 color printing process, exposing nuanced color not present in the original images that were intended as black and white monochrome prints. These colors are a result of age: oxidation of silver creates coolness that turns on itself in some areas as in solarized surrealist works. The sepia tones normally associated by contemporary viewers with a nostalgic past are subverted through the gross staining apparent: the sky appears to bleed downwards and spots pepper the image surface, disrupting the information it contains.
Wotkyns’ work is the result of the artist-as-curator, a postmodern tradition with roots in works by Sherrie Levine and fellow artists who destabilize the role of image-maker and question the cultural use of pictures. This is emphasized by banal subject matter that speaks to the domestic desire to document everyday life and the fact that the negatives are pulled from anonymous collections at flea markets. Repurposed through a color process not available when the negative was taken, technology’s role in the future understanding of past photography is apparent: when severed from their original context, how are we to read and understand what belongs to a different era? Untitled becomes a carrier for larger ideas and questions regarding the consumption and destruction of historical photographs and the concurrent archival impulses in the scholarly community to save them.
Whitney Wotkyns holds a BA in Sociology and graduated the Fine Art Film program at the New England School of Photography. Her work has been shown and published internationally and is held in private collections in the USA and abroad.
Photography points and declares things as they are. When William Henry Fox-Talbot made his first photogenic drawings, he described the process as allowing objects to draw themselves “without the aid of the artist’s pencil”, ignoring the human interception between the subject and concurrent photograph. Cultural knowledge of the medium have hinged on this interpretation of signs and their real-world referents and built our current awareness of what photographs mean. Because we are preconditioned towards this straight-forward understanding, contemporary photography can do more: suddenly a leaf references complex social conditions instead of just itself.
Christian Tuempling photographs foliage to suggest relationships with the objects that aren’t obvious. It is not the leaves themselves that are important but rather their display. The depiction itself references modernist advertising to suggest our current relationship to nature: removed, packaged and presented just like cabinets of curiosities and museum displays have historically done. Urban society experiences a mediated, protected nature and Christian’s work relies on the slickness of a silver gelatin print to communicate this degree to which we remain removed from our natural world.
Christian Tuempling, a native of western Europe, lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. His work has been shown in the United States and Europe, including a show at MoMA, and is included in in collections at the Museum of the City of New York and the New York Transit Museum.
Photography’s relationship to itself (and the object that it represents) is taken for granted: this corresponds to that. The pictured object is a correlative of its real-life counterpart. But issues of framing obscure this obvious correlation, as the photograph is selective. It only reveals what is inside of the frame, leaving the rest to our imaginations. So how does the meaning of an object shift when it is severed from its surrounding environment?
Camilo Ramirez‘s image is such a complication: initially, the image reads as flat representation. It is only through details like the shadows of leaves on the wall, and the subtle seams and bolts holding the depiction together that its role as an amusement park photo-gag is apparent. The missing faces imply other people: it is your own likeness that is meant to appear and your own camera that is meant to frame the image just so. By framing (in a pre-determined manner), the surrounding world is voided and the photographic representation refers backwards to something that it isn’t. Camilo’s image speaks to both photography itself and the act of taking pictures: the resultant photograph is of snakes strangling you, but unframed it is just you standing behind a wooden cutout.
Camilo Ramirez holds a BFA from Florida International University and an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad. He currently live and works in Boston, MA where he teaches at numerous colleges.
Shawna Gibbs’ work is a memento mori: it pictures the past. Just as Roland Barthes speak of the image as a predictor of death, Shawna’s image attempts to capture the ephemeral trace of her daughter, who continues to age and change the moment the photograph is taken. What does remains is a trace of who the child once was. The light burned into the negative (and the film) is displayed as one unit, emphasizing this indexical quality of the family portrait.
The practice of imaging our loved ones is central to the cultural use of photography: we picture family members as tokens and reminders of who we once were. Likewise, portraits become more valuable as a person passes on, because they then hold the trace not of what is but rather what once was. It is here that Shawna’s image is powerful:the polaroid portrait, once developed (some many minutes later) is a reminder of the past.
Shawna Gibbs received a BA in geography from Boston University. Her work has been exhibited at the Currier Museum of Art, Minneapolis Photo Center, AVA Gallery and the All Visual Boston Slideshow. She currently lives and works in Claremont, NH.