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News Release — October 12, 2005

"The Image Wrought: Historical Photographic
Approaches in the Digital Age" Opens Jan. 31

Two photographs of sleeping couples, side by side.

Left: Hill & Adamson. My Forenoon Sleep (Elizabeth Logan),
ca. 1843-1847. Salted paper print

Right: © France Scully Osterman. Laszlo and Carole, 2002.
Salted paper print

Two photographs of streets, side by side.

Left: Thomas Annan, Princes Street, from Kings Street,
1868 (from "Photographs of the Old Closes & Streets of
Glasgow"). Carbon print

Right: © Richard McCowan. [Cobblestones at Tower of
London]
, ca. 1998. Carbro print.

AUSTIN, Texas—"The Image Wrought: Historical Photographic Approaches in the Digital Age," an exhibition that examines the seeming paradox of contemporary photographers embracing archaic photographic practices in today's "digital age," will run from Jan. 31 to Aug. 6 at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

Since its beginnings 180 years ago photography has seen an enormous variety of approaches. In the earliest days, photographs were captured on metal or glass plates. Some photographs were even blue.

With the first digital camera debuting more than 20 years ago, the medium of photography has undergone a dramatic revolution. For almost all popular and professional purposes, the computer has supplanted the darkroom in the 21st century.

In sharp contrast to the almost universal embrace of digital technology is the preference of a growing contingent of photographers who are revisiting 19th-century photographic approaches.

These photographers, whose aesthetic goals cannot be met through the seamless resolution of the pixel, are returning with increasing frequency to archaic processes such as the daguerreotype, which was almost extinct by 1860.

Photographers are using 19th-century processes to reassert the hand of the artist to photography. Wrought from silver, gold, mercury and iron, the resulting images have a strong physicality and presence.

In a departure from other exhibitions on alternative process photography, the Ransom Center's expansive photographic collections provide a singular opportunity to present contemporary images alongside vintage examples of their 19th-century predecessors. These pairings provide a window to examine how contemporary photographers view the past: some relying on an almost sentimental continuity, others contrasting with radically fresh imagery.

About 80 objects are included in the exhibition, which explores not only 19th-century processes, such as daguerreotypes, cyanotypes and tintypes, but also cameras and formats, and alternative supports and treatments. A documentary section provides an overview of the alternative process movement.

"It is vital to realize the aesthetic advantages of preserving the past," says exhibition curator Linda Briscoe Myers.

"The exhibition demonstrates that there is an inherent beauty to these handcrafted images that differ from those produced entirely through digital technology."

High-resolution press images from the exhibition are available.

"The Image Wrought: Historical Photographic Approaches in the Digital Age" can be seen at the university's Ransom Center Galleries on Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended Thursday hours until 7 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays the galleries are open from noon to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed on Mondays.

 

 
 

Media Contact for members of the press

Jennifer Tisdale
Director of Public Affairs
Phone: 512-471-8949
Cell: 512-921-0845
Fax: 512-471-9646
jentisdale@utexas.edu

Harry Ransom Center
The University of Texas at Austin
P.O. Box 7219
Austin TX 78713-7219

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