Sunday, 8 December 2013


The photogram is perhaps seen as a past art. As photography dark rooms disappear the method of photographic production may disappear too. The technique of obtaining images without the intervention of a camera is deceivingly simple. Its history begins with Thomas Wedgewood and Humphrey Day and on through to the photographic drawings made by William Henry Fox Talbot and then Anna Atkin’s cynatypes.

The 20th Century is really where photograms belong. Christian Schad when he was a Dadaist produced his “Schadographs” in Zurich. There is Man Ray of course whose ghostly images of objects and parts of the human body contributed to Paris Dada and the emergent Surrealist movement. But “it was the Hungarian Laszlo Moholy-Nagy who, in collaboration with students at the Bauhaus, undertook the most radical exploration of the technique’s potential, using it to study the relations of color (sic), light, and form” (Mora, Gilles, 1998 pp. 143-145). Moholy-Nagy has said that he regarded this direct process of photography as “the most perfect way of representing luminous flux” (p.145).
This “luminous flux” that Moholy-Nagy discusses became central to much of my thinking about image making. Man Ray has always fascinated me: the luminosity of his solarised figures and there is much to be admired in his inventiveness, however his photograms were often whimsical in my mind.

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