Photography revolutionized in ‘Digital Darkroom’

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Author: Natania Reed, Senior Writer

The Annenberg Space for Photography’s  current exhibition, titled “Digital Darkroom,” explores contemporary approaches to digital photography, highlighting digital or darkroom manipulations and technology’s intersection with artistic expression. Located in West Los Angeles, the museum serves as a creative space for both traditional film photography and cutting-edge digital photography.

Through the work of 17 different photographers, “Digital Darkroom” examines the variety of ways that technology can influence the art of photography. The exhibit accomplishes this task not only by displaying the photographs themselves but also by screening two documentary films and arranging an interactive feature, which lets museum-goers use touch-screen technology to play around with the photographs.

Several artists featured at “Digital Darkroom” utilize new developments in technology to create 3-D photographic images. Featured artist Mike Pucher creates three-dimensional photographs that focus on details of flowers and other plants. These close examinations of nature benefit from the use of 3-D technology, as the plants themselves appear to pop out and come alive. “Dahlia No. 10” (2010) reveals the intricate details of a flower, which seem to defy spatial limitations and protrude out of the constraints of the frame. The exhibit also features several 3-D images from Claudia Kunin. “Tower of Babel” (2008) recreates Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 1563 painting of the same name by using photographic images that Kunin took all throughout England. She meticulously placed the individual images together via Photoshop to create a hyper-realistic image of a nonexistent tower in 3-D.

Other photographers used different digital means to achieve an otherworldly look to their photography. Jean-François Rauzier, who has several large-scale works featured at the exhibit, used Photoshop to combine multiple images to form one large photograph. “Abandoned Bicycles” (2005) combines over 200 images to reveal an incredibly detailed view of a street crowded with bicycles in the early morning. “Sunha” (2008) is part of a 12-photograph series inspired by a Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata’s novella “House of the Sleeping Beauties.”

This photograph, like “Abandoned Bicycles,” amasses hundreds of individual photos to collectively exhibit extremely intricate details. The photograph shows a man sitting by a staircase on a ledge outdoors watching over a young girl laying on a carpet. This work in particular uses over 500 individual images to showcase the details in the photograph.

Featured artists Martine Roch uses digital techniques to demonstrate a sense of humor in her photography. She creates digital “characters” that have human bodies bedecked in 19 century clothing and animal heads. “The Delicate Lady” (2009) combines the head of a white rabbit with the body of a woman in a pink dress in front of a dark background. “The Honest Man” (2011) uses the same approach but portrays the figure of a man in a mustard-colored suit and the head of a goat.

The exhibition as a whole is a beautifully-curated demonstration of the artists’ ability to create unseen visions and imaginary settings using an intricate combination of digital techniques and photography.

“Digital Darkroom” opened its doors on Dec. 17, 2011 and will run until May 28.

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