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Metamorphoses: Photography in the Electronic Age

June 22–August 18, 1996

Metamorphoses: Photography in the Electronic Age appears at a charged moment in the evolution of photography. With digital-imaging technology, photographs can now be created, enhanced, and altered in the computer. This breakthrough has forced a re-evaluation of still images and the widely accepted concept of "photographic truth." When artists first began to explore digital imaging in the early 1980s, many were seduced by the gadgetry, manipulating elements and colors on screen simply because the technology allowed it. In contrast, the photographers whose work is presented here employ the new tools--including digital cameras, imaging software, scanners, still video, and a range of output devices--to take digital photography to a more sophisticated level. These images are not about what technology can do, but rather incorporate technology to form powerful visual statements. Many photographers using the new tools have drawn on well-established means of expression. Montage, a central and evolving artistic practice throughout the twentieth century, is especially prevalent; today's digital technology is ideally suited to the seamless fragmentation, integration, and layering of photographs in the computer. The resulting images suggest the simultaneous existence of multiple photographic truths. A number of the artists represented in this exhibition have chosen the digital environment to explore how personal issues of race and gender collide with, or are informed by, technological change. Others have focused on family history, landscape (both natural and "enhanced"), and conceptual issues in contemporary art. New technology does not necessarily determine a totally new direction for the artists' work: digital photography is simply another means of addressing their most pressing concerns. What kind of images will emerge in the coming years, as film and chemicals become increasingly outmoded and artists push the limits of digital technology? Without negatives to refer to, how will "original" images and prints be identified? The works here provide some provocative responses to these questions. Metamorphoses: Photography in the Electronic Age celebrates the creative potential of the digital image and demands a fresh look at the relationship between photographs and the realities they represent.


Aperture Foundation, New York


Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, New York
Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston
Tampa Museum of Art, Florida
Philadelphia Museum of Art
San Jose Museum of Art
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City
Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Main Building


Michael E. Hoffman

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