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A Matter of Memory: Photography as Object in the Digital Age

Saturday, October 22, 2016, 12 a.m., Main Galleries

With the convenience and ubiquity of computers and smartphones, the majority of photographic images are being recorded digitally rather than on film. As this transformation has broadened access to photographic images—both in making and in viewing—in many contexts it has also obviated the need for photographic prints. Snapshooters, photojournalists, and commercial photographers rarely produce material objects as the final step in their process. As a consequence, photographs in the form of image-bearing sheets of paper are scarce outside of the art world.

Because personal and collective memories are so inextricably intertwined with photographs—the result of the medium’s progressive saturation of everyday life for the past century and a half—this revolutionary change in the production and dissemination of photographic images is altering society’s relationship to memory.

In the midst of this change, many contemporary photographers are making work that addresses, either directly or obliquely, the potential consequences of the medium’s metamorphosis. Some artists dig deep into photographic materials as though searching for the locus of memory, while others incorporate found snapshots into their work as virtual talismans of recollection. Both kinds of work highlight the presence of the photographic object and function as self-conscious meditations on photography’s ongoing reorganization of our mental and physical landscape.

A Matter of Memory: Photography as Object in the Digital Age is generously sponsored by Deborah Ronnen and Sherman Levey.

Artists featured in this exhibition include Thomas Barrow, Mladen Bizumic, Matthew Brandt, Marco Breuer, Antony Cairns, Ellen Carey, Phil Chang, John Chiara, Adam Fuss, Bryan Graf, Robert Heinecken, Leslie Hewitt, Kenneth Josephson, Farrah Karapetian, Jason Lazarus, Laura Letinsky, Jim Lommasson, Lilly Lulay, Nick Marshall, Chris McCaw, Diane Meyer, Yola Monakhov Stockton, Vik Muniz, Floris Neusüss, Marlo Pascual, Matthew Porter, Alison Rossiter, Taryn Simon, Michelle Stuart, Kunié Sugiura, Matthew Swarts, Bertien van Manen, James Welling, Melanie Willhide and Augusta Wood.

Audio Tour

For the exhibition, we asked artists to answer a question: Is your personal connection to digital images the same as it is to photographic prints? These were shared through our audio tour as part of the exhibition, and are now available online at SoundCloud.