Transformational Image Making: Handmade Photography Since 1960

Transformational Image Making: Handmade Photography Since 1960 was curated by the former director of CEPA, Robert Hirsch. He has put together works that push the boundaries of photography. With this collection, he strives to change the traditional way of viewing photography. Majority of the people believe that “pictures are taken as opposed to made” and Robert is opposed to this idea. He believes that photography takes just as much planning as a painting would take. The photographer has to make choices such as the angle, the lighting, the focus, just like how a painter would chose their perspective, or the lighting source. Therefore, the images in this collection are not a replacement for what a person would have seen if they had sat in the same spot as the photographer. They are a collection of experiments (the pictures are cut up, torn, or even bloodied) that strive to break the conventional way of viewing photography.
The exhibition includes work from some of the most creative photographers starting from the mid 20’s till today. Hirsch has chosen image makes from the past and the present that he felt have influence this way of making pictures. He put his beginning point and his focus on the year 1960. The images
The images Hirsch has chosen are very captivating. The main reason for this is because of the fact that the images aren’t manipulated digitally but physically. Each artist has his or her own unique way of working with photography. Some have physically painted over their pictures while others have torn up images and reassembled them to form a different picture. For example, Vik Muniz, in his piece, has torn up magazines and put together the pieces to mimic Gustave Caillebottle’s famous painting “The Floor Scrappers”. Another example can be Robert Flynt, who makes black and white negatives and manipulates the images in the dark room, uses solarization and paints the prints.
Hirsch had to do a lot of research when deciding what images to include in the exhibition. He said that as he mapping some important figures that had pushed to defy the traditional view of photography, he started to discover various connections between the artists. His choices can mainly be divided into east coast and west coast image-makers. All the artists that have been chosen display a very wide range of techniques in order to make a physical, viewable form of the image that was in their head.
Although they were over a hundred pieces, the gallery was very well organized and did not seem like it was over crowded. However, since all the images dealt with very different concepts and techniques, the images did not seem like they could be a part of the series. In my opinion, the images, visually and conceptually, were too different to be looked at as a part of the same thing.
Overall, the exhibition was very enjoyable. Since, I, personally, do not have much experience or knowledge on image making, it was difficult for me to fully understand how the artists had created the images but at the same time it was fascinating to see how successful they were in pushing boundaries. The images really do force their viewers to change their perception of photography.

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