As we were walking through the streets of SoHo on our recent New York photo walk, one of the attendees said, “Photography isn’t just about looking, it’s about seeing…” Photography really does force you to become an observer, to see or take note of things in the world around you that might often go unnoticed. Artists take that one step further – even beyond what you see through the lens – to other worlds, dreams and visions found deep in their imaginations.
Russell Brown, senior creative director and Emmy award-winning instructor at Adobe, participated in the selection of 17 artists from the US, France and the UK, whose work reflects this kind of altered reality. He will be in Los Angeles next week to host the opening of the “Digital Darkroom” exhibit at The Annenberg Space for Photography. As the curatorial advisor, Russell – along with Patricia Lanza, director of talent and content at the Annenberg Space for Photography – has chosen over 80 print and digital images representing varied organic mediums and digital processes that involve composites, highly layered, 3D and even lenticular imagery.
While the term “digital darkroom” has become synonymous with photo manipulation and innovative techniques that replace traditional “darkroom” equivalents, the title of this exhibit takes on another new meaning. The artists represent various walks of life and experience – some raised in the darkroom with chemicals and clothespins and others who’ve only known digital files and Photoshop. Each were chosen specifically for their unique craft and the extremely intricate and time-consuming journey they embark upon to create their images.
There are young artists like 24 year-old Brooke Shaden whose recent image was the inspiration behind a Ron Howard short film and whose inventive techniques, like shooting photos of herself with an aquarium duct taped to her head are intriguing and help bring her vision to life. In contrast, there’s the legendary fine artist Jerry Uelsmann, born in 1934, who is the master of manual manipulation techniques and has served as Russell Brown’s own inspiration throughout his creative career. Jerry’s early teachers expanded his perception of what photography could be and turned the “assignment” of photography to a form of personal self expression.
There’s also Joel Grimes, a commercial photographer and self-proclaimed “illusionist” who uses his artistic eye and training, along with Photoshop and HDR to create dramatic photographs that look like paintings (Russell’s Mad Hatter image above is an example!).
As one of the original team members responsible for introducing the very first version of Photoshop back in 1990, Russell knows all too well how instrumental Photoshop has been as the tool to unleash what’s inside an artist’s mind. There will be a 3D Zone in the museum that highlights the often surrealistic world of 3D imagery and artists like the UK-based Chris Levine, who took the first 3D photographs of Queen Elizabeth II that will be on display. He calls what he does “light-based work,” utilizing lasers, lenticular images and other cutting-edge techniques.Or there’s the unique photography of Claudia Kunin who creates sometimes haunting, deeply mysterious and arresting 3D imagery using stereoscopy techniques and Photoshop.
We had the privilege of touring the Annenberg Space for Photography – the first photographic cultural destination in the Los Angeles area – a very intimate and thoughtfully planned out space. Whether you’re rounding the corner of the curved circular entrance wall (which is meant to resemble the loop of film in a camera) or looking up at the ceiling (designed to look like the aperture of a lens) while surrounded by digital imagery in the 360 theater, it’s clear that this museum pays homage to photography’s roots. If you live in or are planning to be in the LA area, stop by the Annenberg Space for Photography to see what has been curated as it promises to be an immersive and intriguing experience for its visitors.
WHERE: Annenberg Space for Photography
2000 Avenue of the Stars
Century City, Los Angeles
DURATION: December 17, 2011 – May 28, 2012
Wed-Fri: 11am – 6pm
Sat: 11am – 7:30pm
Sun: 11am – 6pm
LECTURES: Sign up to participate in the artist lecture series and meet the people behind this ingeniously inspired work.
Check out our Facebook page for more updates throughout the life of the exhibit.