Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"The Keeper of Retinal Memory"

          I was, very excited to hear Nick Olson's lecture earlier tonight. A young photographer practicing outdated photographic techniques? Yes, I would love to hear about that. I know I'm already a bit in this vein, preferring to stay away from digital photography and focus on black and white film, but I did not even think about tintypes being a legitimate option for regular photographic practices. Olson discussed his world views, which related directly to his photographic practice. He used the phrases "slow down" and "do things deliberately" multiple times through his presentation, which shows how important these ideas are, both in his life and in his art. He focused a large portion of his presentation on his choice to live in a self-sustained environment, very close to nature, both as an apprentice and an artist in residency. I appreciate the idea of taking a step closer to your work and slowing down to truly understand the machinations of things, though I do not believe everyone needs to go live in the woods to do it. That is not to say Nick Olson was suggesting everyone go to the woods. He did, however, raise a valid point for any artist.
          Nick Olson discussed several of his bodies of work, two of which involved a sort of re-photographing of tourist locations to show how people inhabiting them have changed the landscape. In this way, he is able to take a 19th century art practice and bring it to light in the modern age. By using the same technology as those who made the original images his concept is drawn from, he meshes the past with the present. Old technology in a modern digital world.


  1. I agree, he did seem to have a running theme throughout his lecture on the importance of deliberate living, and essentially "stopping to smell the roses" as they say. I thought it was surprising too how his lifestyle and art seemed to connect so thoroughly, to the point that one was almost becoming the other. Perhaps that's where his examination into people's lifestyles outside of norms will take him - into some further exploration of ways of living.

  2. It is great to see your excitement about such an old technique. I think for me it has a little less meaning because I really enjoy digital photography. I think our views of artists and how much we can take from them really can be based on how much we can relate to their art, and I think, like you mentioned not everyone needs (nor can) go live in the woods to slow down and take a step closer to your art.

  3. So glad you wrote "Keeper of Retinal Memory" that title struck us as being wonderfully descriptive and evocative pointing out an aspect of what photography is. By giving a PowerPoint and describing his process with digital images, Olson showed that his toolbox included digital media but they are functional rather than purely aesthetic/expressive.