Thursday, October 15, 2015

Haas Gallery features cameras as instruments and art

Neal Cox's approach to photography is unique. His exhibition in the Haas Gallery shows twelve images taken with twelve different pinhole cameras that he designed and built himself. Each image and its camera are placed adjacent to each other. The cameras are complex, three dimensional objects in their own right, opening like the layers of an onion to reveal their inner workings. In some cases, there is a bit of mystery about how they work at all. The images relate to the cameras in their geometric shapes and use of color.

Cox writes:
Of the many considerations driving my core practice of designing, building, shooting with, and making prints from cameras, the following rank highest in priority:
Serendipity: I have a basic interest in seeing how things happen without my dictation. I design a complex, multi-aperture camera using pre-existing forms of geometry mainly so I can experiment with serendipity. By design, I leave the viewfinder out of the camera so that composition belongs to the process following exposure. The many ways that lines, values, shapes, etc., cross borders from one exposure to another intrigue my sense of aesthetics.
Dimensionality: Many of the cameras I have designed exploit anamorphic distortion. By creating a dimensional film plane and exposing onto film that has multiple planes, I have the opportunity to flatten the three-dimensional exposure and create a non-standard photographic view of the subject matter.
Aesthetics: I satisfy a personal drive to make objects by making cameras. I satisfy a personal drive as a trained printmaker to make prints by using the negatives in a broad range of techniques to make prints: collotypes, gum prints, cyanotypes, van dyke prints, screen prints, photogravures, tintypes, inkjet prints, etc. Each process affords a satisfying way to interpret photographic mark making. I satisfy a personal drive to make books by using, book art materials, primarily, such as book cloth and book board in the construction of my cameras. I satisfy a personal drive to draw by initially conceiving of my camera designs in a sketchbook, using ballpoint pen to bring the idea to life.
Research: In order to realize a given idea, I often must conduct research into geometry, physics, or some other non-art specific field. I delight in learning new principles with applications to my craft.
Cox is an Associate Professor of Art at Stephen F. Austin State University School of Art in Nacogdoches, Texas. His show will run from Oct 15 to Nov 12, with a closing reception on Nov 12, 11 to 2pm, and an Artist Lecture at 1:15pm.

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