British photographic history

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At the dawn of photography, one finds the photogram (1834). The word ‘photography’ literally means “drawing with light”, its Greek roots - phōs for light, graphis for drawing. Originally called ‘photogenic drawing’ later the ‘photogram’ a term that continues today, it was discovered by the British inventor, William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) as a paper negative print (1834), contact printed for its positive (1840).

The photogram legacy continues under my darkroom practice Struck by Light (1992-2020). In color, this history begins with the female British Victorian, Anna Atkins (1799-1871), Talbot’s contemporary, the first woman practitioner, also camera-less and the first woman in color through the cyanotype, “sun pictures” creating a Prussian blue, taught to her by Sir John Herschel, its inventor, and a friend to both.

Zerogram re-names the photogram in the 21st century, a new object for a new century, referencing not only Talbot and Atkins, but the experimental avant-garde worldwide, with an emphasis on the art movements of Surrealism, Dada and Man Ray with his rayograms to Bauhaus and the Zero Group.

“How is this picture made?” and “What is this a picture of?” are questions asked about my work. They address photography as process and the conundrum of an image without a picture ‘sign’ to read.

Light’s immateriality challenges its makers today, analog versus digital, doubles our challenges. “What is a 21st century photograph?” finds my answer in partnering 19th century photogram with the advances in color darkroom printing and its chemistry, re-framing the collective histories of the photogram.

In my work, there is no referent, nothing -zero- between the light and the light-sensitive paper, only light, in the "light-tight" environment of the color darkroom, again revisiting "zero", long both my practices -- Photography Degree Zero with Struck by Light.

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