Type 665 (Polaroid)

2013

Tray (Eastman Kodak)

2013

Tongs (Samigon)

2014

Spotting glass (Custom)

2014

Sponge (Kalt)

2012

Safelight (Eastman Kodak)

2013

Photometer (Science & Mechanics)

2013

Negative Carriers (Omega)

2013

Grain Magnfier (Bestwell)

2012

Filter Kit (Eastman Kodak)

2012

Film Washer (Wat-Air)

2012

Enlarging Easel (Saunders)

2014

Enlarger Base Part (Omega)

2012

Dodging Wand (Custom)

2014

Developing Tank (Eastman Kodak)

2013

Developing Reels (Omega:Nikon)

2013

Developing Hanger (Eastman Kodak)

2013

Dektol Developer (Eastman Kodak)

2013

Contact Print Frame (Century)

2013

Color Print Viewing Filter (Unknown)

2013

Again, our photographic tools and processes are changing. We are in a state of transition between tools that we can easily relate to tools that do their job behind the scenes, so to speak.

We are abandoning the analog and moving towards digital.

We are moving from – mostly – tangible chemical and mechanical processes to photonic, electronic and digital ones; from human to non-human.

Tools that we used to closely hold in our hands and – for better or worse – under our control are being taken out of our hands and supervised by entities over which we have no control whatsoever.

These photographs are remembrances of a world we knew not too long ago that has largely disappeared. They are relics of a photographic “civilization” recently vanished, at a pace that was mostly unimaginable and unpredictable.

Our photographic world has changed. For better or worse. As always, somewhat for better and somewhat for worse.

These images are a testament to our tools and procedures of the passing of what is called the analog era of image making.

Hoses, clamps, fans, tanks, liquids, chemicals, safelights, sponges, impellers, deep tanks, temperature controllers, enlargers, flow meters and a myriad of components, parts, and procedures that were developed over the years to make photography more predictable. So we would have more control of a rather finicky process the results of which were typically shrouded in mystery with regard to the final outcome. At the lab, we inquired after our films were processed: “Did it come out?”. We spoke of the “magic” of seeing our prints appear from nothing in the tray by the enlarger in the darkroom illuminated by the dim greenish/yellow OC safelight.

It is time to forget the toil we endured and the challenges these items presented?

Or should we simply admire the ingenuity of the chemists and mechanical engineers who made these objects, and the countless individuals and process technicians who used them to advance their craft and which are now considered the detritus of our photographic past?

One thing is for sure: we have left them behind. We are off into a digital “promised land” where every photon is counted. Every photon accounted. In the digital realm, there promises to be no ambiguity; predictability is guaranteed. It is either there or it isn’t. In the chemical era chance and approximation played a significant part in the image making process. We were often surprised (and baffled) and expressed that surprise by inquiring “did it come out?”. How could one not ask such a question when the process depended so much on such items whose images we see in this exhibition?

Will there remain the sense of wonder waiting in eager anticipation to see the efforts of our creative work slowly appear before our anxious eyes? Are we losing something in the process to get instant feedback at little physical connection with the process itself? The digital revolution guarantees that instant reward. It remains to be seen if more significant and long lasting work is generated with these instant gratification methods.

One thing is certain. More photographs will be made in the future than have ever been made in the past. How many significant ones will survive?

And so that mystery related to the uncertainty of the photographic outcome is slowly fading. Sadly, in a sense but I am sure that new mysteries will develop. However, they may take a stronger developing agent than Kodak Dektol mixed 1:2, kept at 68 degrees F and processing for 2 minutes with constant agitation.

Andy Davidhazy