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January 21, 2013 / Ginny Banks


Sometimes, I love cameraless photography where you are just dealing with light in a most basic way. While my Bellevue College students were waiting for their supplies, they made photograms. The process involves placing flat, three-dimensional, transparent or opaque objects directly on light-sensitive photo paper and exposing it to light from the enlarger. The process can also be done digitally by using a scanner. One of my favorite photographers is Man Ray. He has many well known, Surrealist, figurative photographs but he is also known for his lyrical photograms dubbed rayographs. Just like when you are making a print where you look for the perfect density or range from dark to light tones, the photograms I like are the ones where the light slips through some objects and renders them in varying shades of gray rather than simply as opaque silhouettes. “The results were clear, negative forms or non-forms, as it were: although the object appears absent, a fleeting moment of contact captures its presence.”

Man Ray’s Surrealist colleagues thought his rayographs were akin to automatic writing. Next time, I might have my students write from a photogram. “Make yourself comfortable in a place where you are best able to concentrate on your inner self…Put yourself in the most passive, most receptive possible state…Write quickly, without a preconceived theme, so quickly that you cannot remember what you have written and are not tempted to reread…Automatic texts produced these sorts of word streams: “I have always felt sympathy for the plants which rest on top of walls. Of all the people who slipped over me, the most beautiful, in disappearing, left me this wisp of hair, these wallflowers, without which I should have been lost to you…” —Floris M. Neususs and Renate Heyne.

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One Comment

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  1. Keli / Jan 21 2013 5:58 pm

    I’ve seen some of these hanging in the hall and thought they looked really interesting and fun to make.

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