Black Box Projects in Cromwell Place: Photo London Digital IRL Viewing Room

5 - 11 October 2020

For the 2020 edition of Photo London and the inaugural edition of Photo London Digital, Black Box Projects presents the work of ten contemporary artists who apply historic photographic techniques to create innovative and unique works of art.


The exhibition includes unique pieces by Joanne Dugan, Adam Jeppesen, Chris McCaw, Joni Sternbach, Liz Nielsen, Bruno V. Roels, Steve Macleod, Fabiola Menchelli, Timo Lieber and Nikolai Ishchuk. The artists, many of whom work with handmade cameras, modified cameras, or no camera at all, are unified by their dedication to exploring the processes of the past and discovering novel approaches to using them in their contemporary practice, all the while redefining the very root of what photography can be.


The exhibition includes such increasingly rare techniques in contemporary photography as photograms, cyanotypes, tintypes, wet-plate collodion prints and hand-made silver gelatin prints. This exhibition provides an opportunity to examine why these rudimentary photographic techniques have benefitted from a resurgence in popularity in today's age of digital technology and social media and places an emphasis on the physicality of the print and the photograph as an object


Some works shown here are created without a camera by melting ice crystals or by painting with light, others forgo the traditional negative and instead use paper as negative in the camera when recording the path of the sun across the sky, another uses time and location to create works as dust and dirt scratch and distort the film as it was carried by the artist from the North Pole to Antarctica in a journey lasting almost 500 days. The artists presented by Black Box Projects at Photo London Digital 2020 display a mastery of fundamental photographic techniques - instead of embracing modern technology and technical advances. These artists harness image-making techniques dating back to the very dawn of the photographic medium as if to suggest a slower method, a more deliberate way of both creating and experiencing the photographic image.


Black Box Projects presents both framed photographic pieces as well as sculptural works made of cyanotype and mixed media. Accompanying the exhibition is a 48-page newsprint publication with an introduction by Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photographs, V&A, published by Ethos Ink, and available to purchase from the gallery's website.