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Antique process portraiture in the selfie age: contemporary collodion tintype photographic portraits by SAC Resident Artist Phillip England.

The revival of early chemical photographic processes including collodion tintypes exemplifies in part a reaction to the computer-based, digital incorporeality of contemporary photography and a return to hand crafted, analogue image making. Their beguiling materiality is rarely encountered in modern photography.

Phillip England‘s contemporary tintype portraits resonate hauntingly with historical tintypes. The long exposures required force the sitter to concentrate on their own stillness and gaze, investing the photo portrait with aura and gravitas.

Many people are searching for a way of restoring preciousness to the photographic record of family, friends and indeed themselves. The ubiquity and ease of modern digital photography has devalued the photographic experience. Consequently, images lie forgotten and in some cases lost on phones, drives and clouds.   

The collodion tintype is the antithesis of the modern snapshot. It requires skill to produce, is entirely hand made, requires still concentration from the sitter, is a one-off image made in the camera itself and it lasts forever, requiring no algorithm to interpret, or internet subscription to access.

Ag / BLACK showcases this once popular
19th century photographic process
in a contemporary setting,
prompting us to critically consider the
ephemerality of the modern photographic record.

Friday 1 December 2017 – Wednesday 28 February 2018


Image Credits:
Sarah Mashman as Mata Hari & Michael Bugelli, proprietor of Michael Bugelli Galleries (2017). Diptych of 5×7 inch collodion tintypes by Philip England

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