Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Summer 2006 Newsletter

In the Galleries: Technologies of Writing and The Image Wrought

Photograph

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

The Image Wrought

Running though August 6, The Image Wrought: Historical Photographic Approaches in the Digital Age highlights the work of contemporary photographers who embrace antiquated nineteenth-century practices.

The nearly universal practice of digital photography has motivated some photographers to revert back to seemingly obsolete processes with unique and unpredictable outcomes that better reflect the artist's touch in the face of the pristine pixel. Curator Linda Briscoe Myers says, "The exhibition demonstrates that there is an inherent tactile beauty to these handcrafted images that differ from those produced entirely through digital technology."

Drawn from the Ransom Center's extensive photographic collection, the exhibition offers the unique opportunity to see the contemporary pieces paired alongside their vintage predecessors, which were produced by the same processes more than 100 years earlier. The pairings create a dialogue that reveals how the modern photographer approaches his or her historical model.

The exhibition offers nearly 70 examples of contemporary and nineteenth-century photographs that explore not only historical processes, but also camera technology, photographs made on alternative supports, and photographs with surface treatments.

Read The Economist's review of the exhibition


Photograph

Korean type; 18th century

Technologies of Writing

The Ransom Center's current exhibition, Technologies of Writing, which runs through August 6, documents the evolution and history of writing.

Writing is perhaps man's greatest invention. Not even the development of language is comparable, for all species have a means of communication. Writing, though, is what enables language to be copied and stored. Writing provides us with a cultural memory, which is in large part what makes us human.

The exhibition, curated by Professor Kurt Heinzelman and graduate student Elizabeth Garver, with assistance from many other faculty and staff members, showcases rare, original artifacts dating from 2000 BCE to the present. Featured items range from cuneiform tablets to electronic texts, showing that the development of writing is ongoing and responsive to technological innovations.  


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