The art of capturing an image through an improvised pinhole device traces back to ancient China and Greece through the Renaissance, reaching its height of popularity in the 1880s. The era of the modern sharp-focus lens camera marked the end of pinhole photography as a major art form. Three decades ago Eric Renner resuscitated the form with his publication Pinhole Journal that ushered in a resurgence of interest by artists seeking an alternative, often conceptual vision and alternative to sharp-focus photography. Renner and Nancy Spencer have out of this effort built the world's largest collection of pinhole art from 31 countries and 500 of artists comprising 6000 images. Pinhole offers new ways of exploring the world using the simplest, improvised mechanisms fashioned of oat boxes, sea shells, and other surprising materials to create images of mysterious, sometimes disturbing beauty in dreamlike landscapes, portraits, still-lifes, abstractions, and politically charged images. In pinhole it is the camera object that looks but the artist that sees, thus accounting for the considerable mystery and poetry that is pinhole photography. Primitive in technological terms, it allows us to visualize things we cannot see. A photograph made with the pinhole camera is always a recording of the cameras "gaze," showing what it looked at, not what the human being saw. The photographer no longer constructs subjective representations; he merely assists at the birth of the image. This book along with the accompanying exhibition, presents two hundred contemporary images representing the finest artistry achieved in pinhole photography, most never before published. Artists Paolo Gioli (Italy), Shi Guorui (China) and Bethany de Forest (Netherlands) join an exceptional roster from Belgium, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Poland, and the United States, accounting for the comprehensive nature of this monumental collection.
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For the past three decades Eric Renner and Nancy Spencer have exerted a defining influence on the reemergence of pinhole photography through their publication Pinhole Journal and in building the world's most extensive collection of contemporary pinhole art from thirty-five countries. Presented here are two hundred images representing the collection in its diversity, experimentation, and essential mystery that define pinhole photography.
Pinhole photographs were the first experimental images with the birth of the camera but the process was superseded by the modern camera and fell into obscurity. Who is it that sees, and whose gaze is recorded? In pinhole it is the camera object that looks but the artist that sees, thus accounting for the considerable mystery and poetry that is pinhole photography.About the Author:
Eric Renner and his coauthor Nancy Spencer are credited with the reemergence of pinhole photography through their publication Pinhole Journal.
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