When Kodak introduced its modestly priced and readily accessible box camera in 1888, the company’s slogan, “You press the button, we do the rest,” proposed that anyone could become a photographer. Indeed, the advent of the Instamatic camera followed by the introduction of the pocket camera (still using film) and the subsequent digital point and shoot camera, has allowed anyone to be a photographer — or are they really snapshooters?
Yesterday’s Tomorrow, an exhibit at Odegaard Undergraduate Library mounted by Alt-Photo Pacifica, the regional chapter of the Center for Photographic History and Technology, avoids this question entirely. Instead, the focus of this show is on display and description of selected alternative methods for image production, including cyanotype, cuprotype, lith, palladium, platinum-palladium, Polaroid image transfer, Polaroid emulsion lift, salt print, Vandyke brown and alumitype (a modern elaboration on the older tintype process).
These photographers (Joan E. Bowers, Robert Fukura, Craig Alan Huber, Bruce McCaughey, Kenneth S. Osthimer, Ron Reeder, Judy Rowe Taylor) do not limit themselves to the exclusive use of analog methods for their creative photographic works. For example, alumitype may use a digitally enhanced negative from an original film capture to produce an image on metal using a wet chemical process for final image production. The platinum-palladium, palladium and cyanotype processes engage ultraviolet light to transfer the image from negative to a light-sensitive substrate. Because many of these processes are contact-printed, new techniques now allow the creation of digitally-enlarged negatives which result in a larger final print that retains all of the unique charm of the older processes. The digital process also allows for photomontage in a new way.
The show runs through Aug. 28. An artist reception, open to the public, will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. June 26, in 202 Odegaard.