James Blackburn – 12 photographs

June 1 29, 2014
Opening reception Friday June 6, 7-9:30pm

“To look at a thing is quite different from seeing a thing.” Oscar Wilde
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lange

James Blackburn InvitationI had the good fortune of being in Boston and New York in the early 70’s, when photography began to gain recognition as a significant part of the gallery and critical art world. I settled exclusively on B&W [Black & White] because of its capability to distill, without distraction, the essence of a visual image. It was a revelation to find how fluid was the relationship between a specific frame of 35mm film and some ultimate print generated in the darkroom. A photographer  can and must shape that outcome.

I do not shoot photo essays. Rather, I am drawn to certain subjects – urban landscapes, formal gardens, windows as apertures between interior and exterior, sculpture. So these have become recurring themes in my work over the years. My photographs have come from many different places and times.

The images are about spaces meant to be inhabited by people, but without the people. The structures and gardens are left to speak silently for themselves. For me, this means allowing the final print to take on a somewhat unfamiliar appearance, in the service of seeing with fresh eyes.

In the past few years I have been exploring the visual possibilities of new digital techniques as offered by scanners, archival pigment ink printers, and dedicated software. Various ‘finished’ darkroom prints were selected, scanned, and reworked on the computer. The resulting digital images were then printed on fine art paper producing ‘photographs’ derived from both analog (darkroom) and digital processes; the two stages become inseparable.

~ James Blackburn May 2014

James Blackburn has degrees from the University of Manitoba and the University of Waterloo (PHD 1970). He is a Professor Emeritus (Physics) at Wilfrid Laurier University and an Associate Member of the Guelph-Waterloo Physics Institute. He has been a photographer for more than four decades, has had several exhibitions in southern Ontario, and comes from Niagara-on-the-Lake.

This exhibition was chosen to be on display during our Secret Garden Tour this year for its relationship to the gardens.

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