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August 06, 2004

Photograms and Photogram Based Projects: A Worthwhile Resource

Photograms are the simplest of creations, and for the longest time, I didn't see anything special in many of them...I just considered them a very specialized subset of photography. More recently, I've been fascinated by some of the imaginative work done with photograms of various types. As it turns out, there's an excellent website devoted to the art of the photogram.

An excerpt from their answer to the question "What is a Photogram?":

"The photogram's development process is extremely simple. One can easily create his own photogram by placing an object on a photo-sensitive surface, photo paper for example, inside a dark room. The paper is then briefly exposed to light and developed later.

The picture created by this procedure is called a photogram. It seems to be a type of photography; however, it does not necessitate the use of a camera or another optical apparatus. The resulting pictures vary immensely according to the method applied. Sometimes they contain certain objects that remain recognizable. But, the results can also be of a very restrained nature, allowing our imagination to create objects that no longer have anything in common".

The website is wonderful in the diversity of artists and content that it links to...it's an unwieldy but rich clearinghouse for a huge variety of photograms and work with photograms as a foundation (including mixed-media collages, alternative process creations, and films). A few highlights from my random walk through the links listed at the site:

* Los Angeles photographer and educator Sheila Pinkel's interactive essay, XRAY EYES, featuring a series of blue toned radiographs that come up in response to different philosophical questions posted by Pinkel (click on the question, then the images that appear around the quadrant, then the next question). Her description of the project:

"The images in this site are xeroradiographs produced at the Xerox Medical Research Center in Pasadena from 1978-1985. The commercial name for this technology is mammography and is used to detect cancerous breast tissue. I was greatly affected by the work of Anna Atkins who used cyanotype during the mid-19th century to better understand the structure of the natural world. As I continued doing this work I fell in love with the beauty and complexity of the structures revealed and their potential to symbolize broader cultural meaning".


X-Ray Eyes Webpage

* Beautiful Bauhaus influenced photograms from Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and his disciples, from the 1930s and 40s, at the Bruce Silverstein Gallery website (scroll down to the bottom of the page...there are a couple of non-photograms that don't seem to belong, puzzlingly)


Lois Field photogram, 1949

* Anne Barnard's website features an assortment of photograms, some quite literal, others considerably more abstract. The human body and various body parts are very familiar subjects for photograms, but the manipulations Barnard performs on the images produces some provocative work...the resulting distortions and disfigurations remind me of images from a David Cronenberg film at times. My favorite of her various portfolios are her iris prints from silver toned photographs.

* A fine German site featuring photograms of the human body in poetic states of motion and distortion.


"Freefall" Photogram from macrocosmic.de

* An interesting and thought-provoking essay on seminal Pop Art painter and collagist Robert Rauschenberg's experiments with photograms and alternative processes. This was one of my favorite finds from the photogram website, as it thoughtfully discusses the photographic foundations of hybrid artworks, and provides some background on Rauschenberg's fascination with photography, as well as showing him at work. (One of his more interesting photogram based collages, Booster, can be seen here).


Rauschenberg capturing a human form on blueprint paper

* Finally, another interesting discussion on the creative deployment of photograms: filmmaker Stefan Themerson's "Trick Table" for making photograms.

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Posted by: BAHTIAR DWI S at Dec 30, 2004 3:04:03 PM

Photograms by Glenn Friedel

Posted by: Glenn Friedel at Jul 10, 2007 3:05:25 PM

Nice photos.This website is wonderful in the diversity of artists and content that it links to.

Posted by: spa soil screening at Dec 31, 2008 2:25:03 AM

Those photos are very wonderful as for myself a beginner in the fields of photography. I capture photos of people unexpected. I guess the photos are called stolen shots. I love the photos around here as well. :)

Posted by: medizinische Fusspflege at Mar 15, 2011 8:34:01 AM