Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Women & Photography; Farewell to Kodachrome; Steampunk?

Anita Bunn, Ambient #1, 2010, archival
digital print, 40" x 40"
In her upcoming solo show at Offramp Gallery, The Sun Tells Quite Another Story, LA-based photographer Anita Bunn presents a new series of works that continue her exploration of the act of noticing as well as the temporal nature of the still and moving image. In addition to five stunning new 40" x 40" archival digital prints that will be exhibited in the main gallery, Anita is working with two local master printmakers to explore traditional photographic printmaking techniques. By printing the same image four ways -- as a halftone photolithograph, continuous tone photolithograph, photogravure and salt print -- the subtle shifts and changes that occur through these varied processes become evident.

 It was with these traditional printing techniques in mind that I picked up a copy of Naomi Rosenblum's A History of Women Photographers. This lavishly illustrated coffee-table book is an invaluable primer on the history of women photographers and a visual feast with images by over 250 photographers, from the obscure to the well-known.

I thought I would focus on one historical woman photographer each week for the duration of Anita's show at Offramp, starting with one of the early greats, Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879). Given a camera as a gift at age 48 to occupy her during the absence of her husband, Cameron became obsessed, producing an extensive body of work, mostly portraits. In a world dominated by men, she was credited for having "transformed a mundane medium into an art form."

This video from the "Masters of Photography" collection gives a brief look at the work and life of Cameron. Besides her portraits of Tennyson, Darwin and other British luminaries of the day, of particular interest are the ones depicting Cameron's favorite subject, her niece, Julia Jackson. The portraits of Julia, the future Mrs. Herbert Duckworth and mother of writer Virginia Woolfe, seem to hauntingly foretell the beautiful iconic features of her more famous daughter.

(The embed feature on the Masters of Photography video on YouTube has been disabled, so here's a different video.)

Mama Don't Take My Kodachrome Away!

You may have read one of the numerous articles announcing that December 30th was to be the last day that Kodachrome film would ever be processed. Kodak stopped producing the film in 2009 and the final processing was last week at Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas  whose stock has finally come to an end. Unlike the traditional photographic techniques mentioned above that can be recreated in a studio, Kodachrome is gone forever.


Speaking of outdated technologies, there seems to be a "retrofuturistic" movement, steampunk, growing in popularity. I did a quick survey of members of my household and a few friends to make sure I wasn't the last person to find out about this trend. I'm not, but I'm not exactly ahead on the curve either. According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor: Steampunk: The new Goth:

"Steampunk is a fantasy made physical, made of brass and wood and powered by steam, born of the Industrial Age and inspired by the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. It takes form both as an aesthetic movement and a community of artists; role-players; visionaries; and those who use the tools of literature, film, music, fashion, science, design, architecture, and gaming to manifest their visions."

Here's a video of a 2009 Steampunk exhibition at the Museum of the History of Science, University of Oxford.


Upcoming Events at Offramp Gallery

Please join us for the opening reception of Anita Bunn: The Sun Tells Quite Another Story on Sunday, January 9, from 2-5pm. Click here for directions and more information.

See you there!

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