U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: alt exhibit

Re: alt exhibit

I don't disagree; it's kind of like glass half full or glass half empty. I suppose, if truth be told, I look at it from where I stand with both feet planted well inside alternative processes, and see everything else as "outside." :--)

I didn't mean positive and negative definitions in terms of value judgment, assigning good and bad connotations to the definitions; I only meant positive and negative in the sense of positive space vs. negative space. ...the difference between identifying "alternative processes" as a thing in and of itself, vs identifying "alternative processes" as everything that's not mainstream, as the negative space around mainstream photography. All I was saying is that I identify alternative processes the first way rather than the second way, but that's not to say my way of looking at it is the only way or even a majority way of looking at it; I suspect the other way, of seeing it as whatever's non-mainstream, is more widespread.

I do agree that inkjet prints don't really belong under "alternative processes." I only meant that once I understood the definition of "alternative" for the purpose of the show, it made more sense to me that there would be inkjet prints in the show, because the call for work identified images made with a holga camera or a pinhole camera as examples of "alternative processes" with no requirement that these images be printed in some non-mainstream or traditionally alternative process.

Nice to have some dialogue going; are we the only ones here?


On Sep 6, 2007, at 10:39 AM, Diana Bloomfield wrote:

Agree that the confusion, in part, is with the title they chose to use for the exhibit. "Alternative Works" would have been more accurate.

That said, the term "alternative," as in "alternative processes," does imply, in part, that which is not firmly entrenched in the mainstream-- to my way of thinking. (Again, digital printing is-- at least from what I've seen.) I don't view that as a negative definition, nor as having a negative connotation. "Anything outside the mainstream," given where the mainstream has been lately, seems positive to me. ;)


On Sep 6, 2007, at 1:11 PM, Katharine Thayer wrote:

On Sep 6, 2007, at 7:57 AM, permadocument wrote:

On visiting the on-line alt exhibit I was impressed by the overall quality
of the retained works. A question arises: would it not be the moment to
define what we really mean when we speak of "alternative works".

I think "alternative works" could be defined any way a person or institution would care to define it, because "alternative works" doesn't mean anything to me particularly. Now that I understand that the call for work for this particular show defined "alternative" as such things as images from plastic cameras, pinhole images, photograms and the like, I'm not surprised to find such images, printed digitally, as part of the show.

For me, the confusion arose from their use of the phrase "alternative processes" as the title of the show. "Alternative processes" has come to mean, for me at least, and I suspect for some others as well, a specific set of handcoated processes. If they had named the show "alternative works" rather than "alternative processes," I wouldn't have had any expectation that the show would consist mostly if not wholly of works made by one or more of these handcoated "alternative processes," because as I said, "alternative works" could be anything at all as far as I'm concerned. Anthotypes, holga pictures, crossprocessed images, whatever, including the set of processes I know as "alternative processes."

And maybe "alternative processes" isn't a good name, because it does seem to denote "alternative to" x, and then you have to define what x is and accept everything outside x as "alternative." But I've never defined "alternative processes" as being whatever's left outside the boundaries of some x, to me it does have a positive definition as this particular group of processes, rather than a negative definition as "anything outside the mainstream." So maybe something else, like "handcoated processes" or "historical processes" would be a better name than "alternative processes."

I'm not yet ready to accept gelatin silver as an alternative process unless it's handcoated, and then I do think it belongs. But it's not surprising that we don't all agree precisely on where the boundaries lie that demark "alternative processes."