Friday, March 28, 2008


Today was the opening reception for my exhibit. There was a pretty good turnout, despite it being yet another crappy weather day in Chicago. Several colleagues and friends came, and lots of students were there as well. Thanks to everyone who came, and I hope you enjoyed it.

Here’s a few shots of the exhibit.

The exhibit runs through April 17. I’ll be doing a talk in the gallery about alternative process photography on April 16 at 12:30 pm. It’s free and open to the public.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My Show is Open

My exhibit, titled Constructed Realities, is now open in DeCaprio Gallery at Moraine Valley Community College. Tuesday is the official opening day, but it was open on Monday, because we got all the work installed pretty quickly last Thursday.

The show looks pretty good. I'll take some photos in the gallery and post them here soon. I'm showing 38 pieces total, which fills the space nicely. The number of pieces to include was a guess. Because I hung nine prints of photos taken at the Musee Mechanique in San Francisco in a salon-style grouping, and had frames of varying sizes, I really had no idea how many pieces it would take to fill the space. I was thinking that I would have too many, but while laying out the show, I thought I would need to quickly frame a couple more pieces to fill the space. It turns out that I got it just right.

The opening reception is this Thursday, March 27, from 2-4 PM. Good food, live music, rubbing elbows with artists and students, how can you refuse?

Much (although not all) of the work in the show has appeared in this blog over the past few months, so it seems appropriate to post the artist statement I wrote for it. Understand that I hate writing these things, and procrastinated it for as long as I possibly could. It's not a bad statement, all things considered. It does what a good statement should: Explains the underlying ideas without revealing too much.

Constructed Realities
Artist Statement

The work in this exhibit reflects an interest in how information is organized and presented, and how the display of information effects our interactions with and understanding of that information.

From museums to shop windows and even parks and public spaces, displays are created with the aim of guiding our thoughts, feelings and interactions with these created spaces. These displays strip away some aspects of the world while heightening others. In museums, an attempt at education is made by focusing on specific bits of information to heighten or emphasize scientific narratives. In a similar manner, retail window displays are designed to emphasize the psychology of desire.

I photograph these spaces, created to elicit a particular response or to communicate a specific concept, not as a straightforward documentation of how materials are used or displayed or information conveyed. Rather, I examine them in an expressive manner, achieving a subtle subversion of their intended function. The camera and photographic processes I use obfuscate the motivational or instructional intent of these displays, allowing the viewer’s reactions and responses to recontextualize and create content. Through this recontextualization, new realities are constructed which question the authority of informational and commercial display.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Experimenting With Polaroid Transfers, and The End Of Polaroid?

I spent the last couple days of spring break trying some different ideas with Polaroid transfers. I don’t think anything turned out that great, but I do see potential in some of it.

First up, I made a transfer of an image, and then put a Polaroid lift of the same image on top of it.

OK, it’s pretty uninteresting, but at least I tried something different!

Next are a couple of panoramic pieces made by putting three transfers in a row. These are both made from images I shot in the Field Museum.

The same panoramas were also both done as Polaroid lift panoramas last summer, with less success. Here is my post from last summer on the lift panoramas. You can compare both of these panoramas, made from Polaroid transfers, with the ones I made from Polaroid lifts if you click on the link.

These came out ok, but didn’t thrill me that much either. As I wrote about the lift panoramas last summer, I think the geometry and perspective present in the original photos gets lost when treating them in this manner. The transfers don’t suffer from this as much as the lifts do, but the visual noise that the transfer process brings to the panoramas (one of the desired results of the transfer process) is a little distracting here.

One more try. This one, instead of a panoramic image, is more a mosaic made from four separate photos I shot at Fairyland in Oakland, CA last October.

I like this one, even though it’s honestly not that great. It works much better than the panoramic images shot in the Field Museum. I like it because out of everything I tried, this seems to nave the most potential. I’m considering shooting some more mosaic scenes to try a few more of these. Polaroid images are always going to be much lower in quality than other photo processes, but I like the look of this and think some interesting work could be done with it.

Speaking of Polaroid, you may have heard that they are discontinuing the manufacture of most of their films at the end of 2008. That means no more lifts or transfers, unless someone decides to buy the patents from Polaroid and continue manufacturing the film. While Polaroid processes can be a little gimmicky and predictable, there has also been a lot of interesting work made with them. Check out the work of Lucas Samaras to see manipulated SX-70 prints (Time Zero film for SX-70 cameras was discontinued by Polaroid a couple of years ago).

There’s a website, Save Polaroid, for people trying to convince another company to begin producing the film after Polaroid stops producing it. I personally think these processes are worth saving, although I don’t know how effective the campaign to save the film will be. We’ll have to wait and see.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Polaroid Transfers

I’ve been trying some Polaroid transfers during my spring break. I’ve made a lot of Polaroid lifts, but until now have procrastinated trying transfers. There were two reasons for this. One, I've always liked the look of Polaroid lifts better than transfers, and two, everything I’d read about these processes led me to believe that the transfers were kind of a pain in the butt and took a long time to learn to do well. When I actually started doing some this week, I found the opposite to be true. I like the transfers better than I thought I would, although I still like the look of Polaroid lifts better. I think the transfers are the easier of the two processes, however. They are a little more predictable and easier to control than Polaroid lifts.

I’ve made about twenty of these transfers this week. Here’s a few of the more interesting ones. The one at the top of the post is a photo of a diorama at the Exhibit Museum in Ann Arbor.

This is a shop window in Blue Island, IL. The building is actually across the street, and was reflected in the window.

This photo is part of a display of taxidermied birds in the Field Museum in Chicago.

This is also in the Field Museum, in the main hall.

Another one from the Field Museum, this is one of the dioramas.

This one’s part of something I’ve been working on for a while. I don’t like discussing work in progress, especially when I haven’t thought it through fully, so for now I’ll say it’s a closeup photo of an old comic book and leave it at that.

I’ve got a few experiments with Polaroid transfers in progress. They should be finished in a day or two, and I’ll post the results then.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Constructed Realities

Here's the announcement for my upcoming exhibit. Titled Constructed Realities, it will be held at the DeCaprio Gallery at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, IL. Dates for the exhibition are March 25–April 17, 2008. The opening reception is Thursday, March 27, 2:00–4:00 p.m. There will be good food and live music at the reception, so come if you can.

I'll also be doing a gallery talk on Wednesday, April 16. I plan on talking mainly about alternative photographic processes, and hopefully demonstrating some processes as well.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 10, 2008

I’m Still Here

Long time between updates lately. I’m going to try to update more often, I’ve just been sidetracked recently. First was preparation for my upcoming exhibit. I’ll post more on that soon. Basically, I’ll be showing work made during my sabbatical. Much of it has appeared on this blog, so for those in the area, you can go and see the work in person. There will be at least 30 pieces in the exhibit. so cutting mats and assembling frames was very time consuming.

Then, I got sick. I still don’t know what it was. I thought it was a cold at first, then the flu. All I know is that for a week and a half, I had a severe sore throat and very congested lungs with lots of coughing. I was a little feverish at times as well. With all of that, my studio work ground to a halt. I’m pretty much over being sick (still have a bit of a cough), all the work for the show is framed and ready to go, and I’m on spring break. I’m hoping to spend the coming week relaxing and working in the studio.

Here’s a couple of recent pieces. The first is a cyanotype print of an image shot with my Holga camera last October. It was taken in Japantown in San Francisco.

I like the print, but it doesn’t really fit with the other work in my show, so for now this is the only place you’ll see it.

Here’s two Polaroid lifts, These were made while demonstrating this process to some of my students. They turned out pretty well, so here they are. These would easily fit thematically into my upcoming exhibit, but I’ve already got more work than I need to fill the gallery. So, like the cyanotype above, this is the only place you’ll see these.

This one was taken at the Communist Sculpture Park in Budapest. Readers of this blog have seen several photos teken there.

This one is a closeup of the hand of an accupunture model in a Chinatown shop window in San Francisco. Just like the last image, nothing new here for people who have been reading this blog.