ANALOG exhibition traces London’s darkrooms
Published on 4. 1. 2011 at 3:01 pm
The impact of digital technology on print photography and music production is the subject of ANALOG at Riflemaker in London’s Soho, from 10 January 2011.
The exhibition invites us inside the last of London’s photographic darkrooms, as well as taking a visit to a working reel-to-reel music studio, courtesy of an installation by Lewis Durham of the band Kitty, Daisy & Lewis.
In 2007, when Richard Nicholson began photographing London’s professional darkrooms, there were some 204 still in existence. When he completed the project three years later, only 8 remained. In these labs many of the iconic images of 20th-century culture were processed, from the high-contrast b/w prints of the cast of Trainspotting to lith portrait album covers for U2. Analogue aficionado Lewis Durham’s reel-to-reel recording studio, to be installed at Riflemaker, includes equipment from the legendary Atlantic Studios in Muscle Shoals (Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles), along with Elvis Presley’s New York RCA Studios equipment.
The exhibition will also include familiar contemporary objects like laptops and mobile phones sculpted in cardboard by artist Clare Mitten who ‘re-analogues’ them, turning today’s pods back to analogue. In complete contrast, a massive interactive, computational light installation will be installed in the galllery by Zigelbaum + Coelho, winners of the prestigious Designer’s of the Future award at Miami/Basel Design 2010. Z+C have taken the humble pixel from its on-screen habitat and placed it on the wall, ie back in the physical world. The visitor will therefore experience a unique interactive digital/analogue mix .
Photographer Richard Nicholson began to shoot images of professional photographic darkrooms in and around London in 2006. At that time the darkrooms formed the engine of the British photographic industry.
Many of the iconic images of recent decades were made by so-called ‘master printers’ in the rooms pictured. These include Mike Spry’s high-contrast lith prints of U2 and Depeche Mode for music photographer Anton Corbijn, Peter Guest’s black-and-white prints of the Trainspotting cast for portrait photographer Lorenzo Agius and Brian Dowling’s intricately masked colour prints for fashion photographer Nick Knight.
Richard Nicholson said: ‘The spaces I discovered were often haphazard and brimming with personal details: coffee cups, CD collections, family snaps, unpaid invoices, curious knick-knacks brought back by globe-trotting photographers. These human elements transformed what might have been a detached typology of modernist industrial design into something more intimate and nuanced.’
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and The White Stripes have famously chosen to record on analogue equipment but they are notable as exceptions in the digital takeover. Similarly Kitty, Daisy & Lewis is a young band that prefers the process and warmth of sound achieved through analogue recordings. The much-signalled death of vinyl has long been held back by DJ culture and in fact sales of vinyl recordings have increased by 20% year on year since 2005.
Kitty, Daisy and Lewis and special guests will perform at Riflemaker during the course of the exhibition, as well as recording all-comers ‘direct to disc’ in the gallery’s pop-up music lounge. Follow Riflemaker on Twitter to find out how to be part of the audience http://www.twitter.com/riflemaker_soho
Visitor information: ANALOG: 10 January to 3 March 2011
Riflemaker 79 Beak Street, London W1
Telephone: 020 7439 0000