The Photogram: A Magical Concept

Branded by various artists over the years, the exploration of the photogram can be traced back to the 1700s with the discovery of light-sensitive materials.

Photograms

The technique of making a photograph without the use of a camera is as old as photography itself. Commonly referred to as a photogram, an image is constructed in real time by placing objects directly onto the surface of a photosensitive paper and exposing it to light. Although photograms may seem similar in their initial appearance to photographs — as are the chemical processes that make them happen — their final outcome is quite the opposite, becoming overlapped slices of light and form to reveal surprising and, often, enigmatic results.

Branded by various artists over the years, the exploration of the photogram can be traced back to the 1700s with the discovery of light-sensitive materials. However, it would take until the following century to produce a detailed photogram and invent a formula to stabilise, or “fix,” an image for permanency. A pioneer who was successful in this field was Henry Fox Talbot. The British inventor made tracings of his botanical specimens by exposing chemically-treated paper to sunlight, calling his process photogenic drawings. But as photographic technology aspired to more advanced levels, the photogram was almost entirely replaced by the supposedly more interesting “camera photography.”

Decades later, thanks to the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century, the photogram veered in a radically different direction. American artist, Man Ray, almost single-handedly popularised the technique, calling his creations rayographs. Other influential artists from this period include Marta Hoepffner, Lotte Jacobi, Christian Schad and László Moholy-Nagy.

A sampling of my photograms, or stephographs, as I refer to them, are shown here.

On The Front Line 2020

Applauding Our Pioneers 2018

Valley Of The Livet 2018

Visions Of Movement 2020

A Heartbeat Away 2020

In Recognition of "291" 2018

Fibre Optics 2011

Bird Sightings 2011

Bottle Parts and Glass 2011

Allium Fields 2022

Plastic Parts 2011

An Aperture in Space 2018

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