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Friday, August 13, 2010

Tintype-making demo by Michael Shindller @ the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art

Michael Shindler is one of the artists of the show "Exposed: Today’s Photography/Yesterday’s Technology" at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.

Michael Shindler and Cathy Kimball, ICA Executive Director.
Shindler's pieces are on the left.

Michael Shindler first talked next to his pieces in the show. Shindler is used to the darkroom where he worked for years. When he realized that it was very difficult to tell the difference between an argentic print and a digital print, he looked for a process which gives a unique result (every plate is an original), which cannot be achieved with digital photography. And so he started to make tintypes (positive image on a metal plate - the first tintypes appeared in the late 1880s).

Making tintypes is a combination of magic, chemistry, alchemy, patience. A lot of chemistry actually. It is impossible to remember everything Shindler said. But his passion is contagious, he is really interested in experimenting and continuing that process.

Usually what he does is that he asks people in the street if he can make a portrait of them. He has a portable darkroom, which allows him to process everything on the spot. The preparation of the plate, the photo and the revelation have to be done in a timely manner. And he can give the photo right away, very much like in the 1880's the photographers would work directly in the street and offered the first photographic portraits to the general public.

After the talk we went to the dark room (there is a print center - darkroom in the ICA).
He said that four people would get their portraits done. He picked 4 papers from a plate where were all the names. And I was lucky enough to be chosen!
Then Michael Shindler prepared two plates.


He coated the plates - the room was lighted with red light.


We went outside the ICA to expose the plates. The pose was 10 seconds long. One cannot move otherwise the image would be blurry. It gives to the portrait and interesting intensity.


Back to the darkroom for the development (normal light).

The image goes from a negative looking...

To a positive looking in s few seconds. Kind of magical. In fact the image is a negative.


The four images are ready. They are not specially sensitive to light but they are sensitive to air and need to be protected by a tight sleeve. Michael Shindler usually encases his photos in an air-tight box-like frame (like he did for the pieces in the show). He is also working on small air tight wooden frames that he is planning to use with even smaller plates.

On the occasion of the show "Exposed: Today’s Photography/Yesterday’s Technology"
July 17 - Sept 19.

"Inspired by the rich history and alchemic experimentation of obsolete photographic practices, the artists in this exhibition create images using antiquated photographic methods, creating works that range from daguerreotypes to tintypes, gum prints to cyanotypes."

Artists in the show: Stephen Berkman, Linda Connor, Binh Danh, Nathaniel Gibbons, Joy Goldkind, Andreas Hablutzel, Rachel Heath, Robin Hill, Kerik Kouklis, Chris McCaw, Beth Moon, Ben Nixon, Ron Moultrie Saunders, Michael Shindler, Brian Taylor.

"Talking Art" with Michael Shindler
Aug. 12, 2010
ICA Print Center

Talking Art is a series of salon-style discussions about art held on the second Thursday of the month from 7pm - 9pm.

contact @ ICA: Susan (408) 283 8155

Michael Shindler will be taking tintypes and bringing his portable darkroom on Sept 17 5pm-midnight for Absolute Zero street festival all along South First street.


Anonymous said...

Michele - what a great blog post about the program lastnight - sounds like it was great!

Cathy Kimball said...

Michele, This is a great summary of our Talking Art session the other night. I'm so glad you were there and that you got chosen to get your portrait taken. Thanks so much for taking the time to write about it!

Michele Guieu said...

You're welcome! I enjoyed the talk and the demo. Very interesting complement to the show.
Also a good energy and a friendly atmosphere.