I was pleased to be invited to talk at the Double Negative Darkroom, tucked away in Hackney. It was part of The London Alternative Photography Collective, a talented and mixed bunch that meet once a month. They have different people along to speak – I was up with the fantastic Adam Brown and Dr Chiara Ambrosio. Adam had combined his passion for record collecting and new media, finding a way to encode images into sound, which were then burnt onto Vinyl. These Vinyl disks could then be played aloud and read by software to create an image. The process introduced incredible anomalies and beautiful malfunctions that seemed to tear apart the digital image, all to a sound track that makes the darkest industrial music sound soothing. It was great to watch, and to hear about another project, where he had built a 1 pixel camera – essentially (I think!) a small camera that you point at your subject and scan over different areas. It creates a single pixel, a square ‘average’ of the colour tones in that specific area, that build up to create an image. Looking closely you can make out shadows and tones of a face – watch the video here. He has a Kickstarter running at the moment that’ll enable him to release his first EP – well worth supporting!
On after him was Dr Chiara Ambrosio from UCL who is researching Alfred Stieglitz, and particularly his relationship and views on objectivity within photography. It was a long time since I’d really engaged the theoretical portion of my brain, (it took a while to get going again) but Chiara was passionate and knowledgeable. I learnt a lot and gained a more solid grounding in Stieglitz reasoning for rejecting (whilst promoting) much of the Pictorial Photography he was publishing in Camera Works, and a fantastic quote by Steichen that pointed fun at the scientists who were inferring photography was entirely objective.
”Some day there may be… machinery that needs but to be wound up and sent roaming o’er hill and dale, through fields and meadows, by babbling brooks and shady woods – in short, a machine that will discriminately select its subject and, by means of a skilful arrangement of springs and screws, compose its motif, expose the plate, develop, print, and even mount and frame the result of its excursion, so that there will be nothing for us to do but to send it to the Royal Photographic Society’s exhibition and gratefully to receive the ‘Royal Medal’.” ALFRED STIEGLITZ
I thought how fun (and futile) it would be to build such a machine.. but I feel google may have beaten me to it, especially after seeing unnerving work made using Google Streetview in the Photographers Gallery not long ago.
After I shared a little about what I’ve been doing with the camera obscura, I was able to glean some knowledge about the various processes I know a little about but haven’t yet tried. I’m looking to use them to capture images in my obscura directly, instead of rephotographing as I am doing at the minute. X-Ray film (thanks Melanie!), Dry Plate and wet plate collodion seem best suited at the moment. I’ll begin my experiments soon!
If anyone in London is looking for a place to get into alternative photographic techniques or need darkroom space, go and visit the bunch at the Double Negative Darkroom.. and the November meeting of the Collective is looking great too.
Thanks to everyone who came, for Double Negative for hosting it, and to Melanie for organising it all!