Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cameraless at Cabrillo

Sieglinde Van Damme, 2012
Is there a resurgence of cameraless photography these days, or is that just my imagination?  If I didn't know better I'd say there was.  You saw it during the recent f295-sponsored alt-photography conference in Pittsburgh, where Norm Sarachek's spirited keynote address, to a packed audience in the august halls of the Carnegie Museum of Art, was on chemigrams.  Who can remember when chemigrams last received so much attention?  Later, in several of the more popular workshops such as Elizabeth Opalenick's on mordançage, the camera was defined to be optional.  Leave it at the door and come in and make photographs, they said.
Beverly Rayner, 2012

Across the country, Martha Casanave’s workshop on cameraless photography at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz, California, July 16-27, continued the trend by demonstrating some of the many methods available, at the same time emphasizing their rich potential for mixing and hybridizing to produce new, unexpected results.  Processes included silver photograms, lumen prints, light-drawing (using flashlights), clichés-verre (aka glassprints), cyanotype photograms, reversed cyanotype photograms, dry plate tintype photograms, chemigrams, and combinations of all the above.  So much to play with in such a short time, but Martha proved a stimulating and tireless guide.
Susan Haisington, 2012
Robin Robinson, 2012
Here we present a few of the works created at Cabrillo by the students, who by and large were completely new to cameraless methods.  In looking at them you get the feeling a curtain has been pulled away, that something uncharted and maybe beautiful awaits these promising artists if only they will take it further, in their own way.  Uncertainty, wonder, discovery, it’s all here.  We wish them the best. 
Aaron Peters, 2012

Michelle Paulus, 2012

Michael Gant, 2012

If you missed Martha at Cabrillo, she'll be offering a public lecture entitled “Letting Go of the Camera: The Joy of Cameraless Photography” on Friday, November 2, 2012 at the Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, California.


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    1. Revised below - best to all, Norm S.

  2. Gorgeous work from the workshop. Congratulations to Martha and her students. I had the honor of presenting the keynote speech on the topics "Chemigrams and Light" and "Chemigrams in the Pictorialist Tradition" at the Carnegie Museum of Art which Doug mentions above. Beforehand I informally asked some attending, professors, curators, gallerists whether they were familiar with the Chemigram process. Most were not. Thus I had an opportunity to introduce them to the process. It was interesting that many of the questions after the presentations were directed to Chemigrams, suggesting a real interest in a very sophisticated audience in cameraless processes.

    Norman Sarachek