Photograms

By Dylan Schmidt

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A photogram is a interesting take on the concept that a photograph is the capturing of light and shadow. A photogram is created by exposing light-sensitive paper to objects by placing them on top of the paper. The area around the placed object, when exposed to light, turns black, while the parts of the paper covered stay white, creating ‘photographs’ of the objects.

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This process was discovered by accident in 1725 by German physicist Johann Heinrich Schultze. Its original use was for scientific documentation and illustration. The use of photograms as art wasn’t attempted until the early 20th century, when it was experimented with by Dadaist and Surrealist artists like  Christian Schad, Man Ray, and László Moholy-Nagy.

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What I find interesting about the idea of the photogram is that it is an interesting take on what a photograph can be. It is a process connected to photography, yet completely removed from the traditional sense of the word. There is no actual photograph taken in this process. Instead, the artist uses the basic process of development to create images. The striking visuals of the image are also fascinating to view; harsh whites and deep blacks create great contrasts in every image. I especially like the connections to surrealism that the medium has a connection to, with the medium expressed perhaps the best by people like  László and Ray.

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To read more on the history of the photogram, check out photograms.org   and to learn how to make your own photograms, watch this YouTube video.

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