I am interested in camera-less photography with comparisons of contemporary artists Alison Rossiter and Meghann Riepenhoff – I am interested in focusing on female artist-photographers that can link back to the history and early image-maker Anna Atkins. Perhaps then I am interested in researching female artist-photographers who use camera-less techniques since the inception of photography to current contemporary practices ….using three examples, Anna Atkins (b. 1799, early photography, 19th Century), Alison Rossiter (b. 1953), and Meghan Riepenhoff (b. 1979). The question at hand then is why is “analog” photography considered obsolete when there is a trace of using non-digital/computer aided techniques from photography’s beginnings till today. Why are contemporary artists interested in this practice? Why was Anna Atkins unacknowledged as one of the first photographers (side thought:maybe answer is simply because patriarchy.) ignored by Beaumont Newhall in his History of Photography? Is it the link with science? Is scientific photography not considered art (like with Berenice Abbott’s Science Portfolio?)…ok that is getting a bit off topic maybe….rabbit hole research.
Other thoughts: the connection with science/scientific practice and these three women’s work. Contemporary practice perhaps linked to the diy movement, going back to older methods, etc.
“The act of making each image is like a performance, with only the photographer present.” – Virginia Heckert, Light, Paper, Process
Combo of technical expertise and intuition…
Discoveries from today’s research (I have found myself going down a rabbit hole of research many times as you will notice, because Internet.) :
- 2014 exhibition What is a Photograph? at ICP in NYC “explores the range of creative experimentation that has occurred in photography since the 1970s. This major exhibition brings together 21 emerging and established artists who have reconsidered and reinvented the role of light, color, composition, materiality, and the subject in the art of photography. In the process, they have also confronted an unexpected revolution in the medium with the rise of digital technology, which has resulted in imaginative reexaminations of the art of analog photography, the new world of digital images, and the hybrid creations of both systems as they come together.”http://www.icp.org/exhibitions/what-is-a-photograph “Artists around the globe have been experimenting with and redrawing the boundaries of traditional photography for decades,” said ICP Curator Carol Squiers, who organized the exhibit. “Although digital photography seems to have made analog obsolete, artists continue to make works that are photographic objects, using both old technologies and new, crisscrossing boundaries and blending techniques.”
Thoughts: Why is analog considered to be rendered obsolete according to Carol Squiers quote above?
A few selected images from this exhibition include:
- Artist, Sigmar Polke – considered a painter but he used many mediums including photographic methods. The first image below reminded me of Meghann Riepenhoff’s cyanotypes.
- The above image of Sigmar Polke’s reminds me of Riepenhoff’s image:
- Allison Rossiter — Received associate degree of applied science at RIT in 1974. liquid intelligence, history of photographic materials/medium, process is chemically oriented in immersion, dipping, pouring, pooling developer onto expired photographic papers. Minimal interventions, “assisted readymades”. Methods can be compared to painters Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollock…whose work favored the natural viscosity and flow of paint.
- “It takes the knowledge of a scientist to understand the potential of the materials and the sensibility of a romantic to unleash that potential, celebrating the unique characteristics of the papers, flaws and all” (19)
- “The image is not abstract, but the technique is. It only requires light and chemistry, and it goes directly from idea to object without making reference to a thing.” The Indecisive Image, ARTnews, March 2008
and Riepenhoff example:
- 2008 group exhibition The Death of Photography, Rossiter, Robert Burley, Michel Campeau at Bulger Gallery “When the invention of photography was announced to the public on January 7, 1839 it created a sensation for both its advocates and adversaries. At present, photography is arguably more popular than ever, but it is also at the end of an era. Digital systems are rapidly making analog materials obsolete. This exhibition includes the work of three artists who are each commemorating this milestone event in the history of art and technology.”http://www.bulgergallery.com/dynamic/fr_exhibit_press_release.asp?ExhibitID=162
- Article, The Indecisive Image, by Eric Bryant, March 2008 http://www.artnews.com/2008/03/01/the-indecisive-image/
- “And while recent years have witnessed a market enamored of pristine oversize prints that require labored postproduction, cameraless photography reintroduces immediacy and chance into the process. “Rather than working six hours on the perfect print, I can go into the darkroom without an idea and just let a direction appear as I work,” says Rossiter. Other observers see the pull of art-historical influences. “I think that a lot of these artists are getting back to these movements in the history of photography connected with light experiments,” says Marcoci. “But they are also looking beyond photography or even abstraction to the artists in the 1960s and ’70s who used unconventional techniques, like James Turrell, Gordon Matta-Clark, Anthony McCall, and Robert Smithson.”
- “The idea of photographic “truth” is undermined by the conceptual investigations of subject matter in Cindy Sherman’s film stills and Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s staged street scenes as much as by the mass media’s embrace of Photoshop. Digital advances in the commercial realm have drawn art photographers’ attention back to a range of earlier methods. “I find 19th-century photography most interesting because the medium was not yet standardized,” says Breuer.
- “Over the last decade or so, these two techniques (unique cameraless prints in the darkroom or rendering real subjects unrecognizable as a result of manipulations) have been joined by a third: process-based work, which is indebted as much to recent research into the methods of 19th-century photography as to the process artists of the 1960s and ’70s.
- “A desire to engage with the accidental motivates many of the artists whose work can be categorized as darkroom abstractions. “
- Rossiter is quoted in this article, “The move to digital imagery is fantastic in terms of postproduction and especially in photojournalism,” the artist acknowledges. “But the way that silver gelatin materials make use of light and precious metals is astounding, and there is nothing like the beauty of 19th- and 20th-century materials.” Rossiter has also made photograms, the oldest and still most widely practiced cameraless technique.
- “Conceptual concerns regarding the objectivity of the image, the limits of perception, and the intrinsic properties of materials have moved to the fore as photographers venture into the digital age.”
Anna Atkins – Photographs of British algae: cyanotype impressions http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/collections/photographs-of-british-algae-cyanotype-impressions#/?tab=navigation&scroll=121
Meghann Riepenhoff – The artist’s book Eluvium consists of reproductions of the original photograms from the series, printed on Epson Luster paper with Epson Ultrachrome 3 pigment inks and adhered to Canson paper. “The word eluvium describes residual deposits of soil and sand produced by wind. To create these images, I cast sand on sheets of light-sensitive paper in the dark. I then spoke, sang, cried, and otherwise generated breath in almost touching proximity to the paper, my actions moving the sand into formations. I exposed and processed the paper, titling each image after what I said or did to create it.”
Unique cyanotype accordion book, 19″x12″x2″ below