Canon Fodder

How photo-futurists trumped focal yokels

Man-versus-machine interactions rarely end well for either side (witness Space Odyssey's HAL 9000 or any Borg from Star Trek), unless the unique nature of each form is put to collaborative effect as a kind of mutual cooperation. (Witness Transformers.)

Such was the thinking, perhaps, of a few California photographers in the 1930s, who were not concerned with evil robots, but perturbed by the artistic use of a fairly new and resolutely mechanical invention: the camera. Group f.64 -- named for the aperture setting that allows for maximum depth of field -- said bollocks to the soft-focus-pictorialism fad and chucked painterly visions in favor of a purer approach to photography, one that emphasized technical capabilities of the camera such as selective focus, resolution, and the ability to capture light, shadow, and texture in amazing detail. After all, they argued, the camera is a machine, and as a medium, photography works best without excessive manipulation or the meddlesome human touch.

"Debating Modern Photography: The Triumph of Group f.64" includes works by Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Willard Van Dyke, and Alma Lavenson.


Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Sept. 15. Continues through Dec. 30, 2007
 
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