Date of Submission

Spring 2020

Academic Program

Art History

Project Advisor 1

Laurie Dahlberg

Abstract/Artist's Statement

My senior thesis is an investigation of contemporary photograms. My thesis is not meant to be a comprehensive study of photograms but rather a look into how specific uses and treatments of it have evolved since its inception in the nineteenth century. A photogram is a photograph made without a camera. The paper begins with a look into nineteenth-century photogram practice to provide general information and context about photograms. The first chapter outlines when the photogram process was invented, who it invented it, how it was used, what its traditional steps were, and what the images looked like. A description of twentieth-century photograms is also included in the first chapter. I discuss the surrealist and dada images by Man Ray. The introductory chapter maps out how photograms have changed from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. The second chapter is about chance in the photogram process. How chance operates in photograms today differs from its role in modernist photograms, which leads to an analysis of how unforeseen elements and interactions exist in the work of contemporary artists Susan Derges and Mariah Robertson. The final chapter is on materialism and formalism. I analyze the way Marco Breuer and Walead Beshty adopt a unique approach that stresses the material capabilities of photograms. The conclusion introduces the photograms by collaborators Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, who, unlike the other four photogrammers, use the photogram to combat issues outside of photography. By examining the work of these contemporary artists in light of earlier photogram practices, I discuss the reasons for the renewal of interest in this early, primitive photographic process.

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