Obsolescence and Relevance

Photographs by John Jenkins and Eric Theise
Photo of the shadow of the photographer over a textured wall.
Monday, Mar 31, 2003 to Friday, May 30, 2003
Townsend Center, 220 Stephens Hall
United States

Recent scholarship suggests that contemporary photographers are returning to photography’s origins, resurrecting obsolete photographic technologies in their work. Such artists are “looking forward by looking backward.” This exhibition explores the relevance of obsolete technologies to contemporary photographic practice. Eric Theise’s work provides a re-engagement with the technology of the pin-hole camera and the print technique of photogravures. His labor-intensive and time-consuming process refuses the instantaneity associated with photography and the snapshot aesthetic, and results in a smudgy, tactile surface. John Jenkins’ artwork also carries the signs of touch, as he actually paints and/or collages directly upon the photographic surface, building it up into a rich texture. Jenkins uses another outmoded photographic technology: that of the Polaroid. The blurry, colorized shapes produced by Polaroid technology are emphasized and ironized through Jenkins’ painterly touch.