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Daguerreotype Workshop with Jerry Spagnoli
This exciting, two day, hands-on workshop led by Jerry Spagnoli will introduce you to the daguerreotype – the first photographic process presented to the public in 1839. A daguerreotype is a photographic image, produced on a sheet of polished silver, unmatched for its detail and clarity, and for its unique presence. The daguerreotype is as much an object to hold in your hand as an image to look into. The process has a rich historical legacy but has been largely lost to artists for over one hundred years, leaving much unexplored potential for the modern practitioner to explore.
This workshop will investigate the process introduced by M.Edward Becquerel in the 1840’s. The ‘Becquerel Method’ is simple in its parts, but supports subtle technique, and requires none of the extremely hazardous chemicals traditionally associated with making daguerreotypes developed with mercury. The plates can either be exposed in a large format camera, or contact printed from a film positive.
Participants will learn all the steps necessary to make a Becquerel daguerreotype and will be given abundant time to make images in class. The skills you will acquire include polishing, sensitizing and finishing the plates, as well as instruction on making your own equipment so that you can continue the process in your own darkroom.
While this course is open to all skill levels, we recommend participants have a solid working knowledge of the basics of photography.
One plate will be provided and additional plates may be purchased for $35 each.
Jerry Spagnoli will be giving an Artist Lecture on his work and the Daguerreotype process on Friday, February 24, the evening before the workshop. This lecture is free and open to the public.
About Jerry Spagnoli
Jerry Spagnoli, a photographer since the mid-1970s, is best known for his work with the daguerreotype process, a complex photographic technique invented in 1839 that produces images on highly polished, silver clad copper plates. Initiating his exploration of the daguerreotype in San Francisco in 1994, Spagnoli experimented with nineteenth-century materials and studied the effects achieved by early practitioners to understand the technical aspects of the process, as well as its expressive and visual potential as a medium. He began work on an ongoing series entitled “The Last Great Daguerreian Survey of the 20th Century” in 1995, continuing the series upon returning to the east coast in 1998. The project features views of the metropolis as well as images of historically significant events including the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11, the vigil following the disappearance of John F. Kennedy, Jr.., and Times Square at midnight on the eve of the new millennium. Considered the leading expert in the revitalization of the daguerreotype process, Spagnoli is also noted for his collaboration with artist Chuck Close on daguerreotype portraits and nudes.
Spagnoli’s interest in the characteristic qualities of photographic processes extends to other aspects of his work. In his “Photomicrograph” series Spagnoli explores how people, photographed at great distances onto a small piece of film and enlarged many times, are readable as human forms from the most minimal information. In “Pantheon,” a recent series of color photographs, Spagnoli placed a radiating sun at the center of each image, the effect of which is enhanced by his use of a pinhole camera. Recently this project has morphed into “Local Stories.” Exchanging the pinhole for a super-wide-angle lens the project has taken on a more documentarian agenda while retaining the preoccupation with the sun as a central motif. Of his work, Spagnoli comments, “Ultimately my use of various materials and methods is centered in my desire to make complicated stories out of the everyday world, which is my apparent subject matter. Photography allows me to engage viewers with images and ideas which are filtered through the abstracting apparatus of the camera and woven into the matrix of its rich history.”