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Time Exposed

Chris McCaw, American, born 1971, Sunburned GSP #492 (North Slope Alaska—24 Hours), 2011, 13 gelatin silver paper negatives, overall, framed: 60.01 × 274.32 cm (23 5/8 × 108 in.), 2013.65.1

Using cameras he constructs himself, McCaw photographs the sun’s trajectory directly onto photographic paper, not negative film. His lenses are so powerful and his exposures so long that, as in his pictures made in San Francisco (slide 2) or the Galapagos (slide 3), the sun often literally burns the paper, turning it a faint orange and causing the tones to solarize or reverse. This work tracks the arc of the sun during the summer solstice north of the Arctic Circle when the sun remains present in the sky for a full 24 hours. Each panel was exposed for almost two hours; the breaks in the line (in the first three and eighth panels) indicate thunderstorms that forced McCaw to cover his lens for brief periods. Because the light in the Arctic is not as strong as it is to the south, the tones in this work are not reversed but instead remain delicate and ethereal.

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Chris McCaw, American, born 1971, Sunburned GSP #475 (San Francisco Bay), 2011, two gelatin silver paper negatives, top: 20.2 × 25 cm (7 15/16 × 9 13/16 in.), bottom: 20.3 × 25 cm (8 × 9 13/16 in.), 2013.65.2

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Chris McCaw, American, born 1971, Sunburned GSP #541 (Galapagos), 2012, gelatin silver paper negative, 25 × 20.3 cm (9 13/16 × 8 in.), 2013.65.3

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Hiroshi Sugimoto, Japanese, born 1948, Tri City Drive-In, San Bernardino, 1993, gelatin silver print, 42.4 × 54.3 cm (16 11/16 × 21 3/8 in.), © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy Pace Gallery, 2013.68.2

Evoking a bygone era, Sugimoto made this photograph of a drive-in movie theater (as well as 101 Drive-In, Ventura, in the following slide) by leaving his camera’s shutter open for the entire running time of the projected film. Each photograph, as he has said, “represents a movie—a whole movie in a photograph.” As the frames flicker by and filmic images are layered atop one another rather than running sequentially, the screen turns a ghostly white from extreme overexposure. By condensing the full length of the film into a single moment, Sugimoto obscures it with its own blinding light, leaving behind a “blank” silver screen open for viewers’ own projections.

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Hiroshi Sugimoto, Japanese, born 1948, 101 Drive-In, Ventura, 1993, gelatin silver print, 42.3 × 54.3 cm (16 5/8 × 21 3/8 in.), © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy Pace Gallery, 2013.68.1

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Vera Lutter, German, born 1960, Ca’ del Duca Sforza, Venice II: January 13–14, 2008, 2008, three gelatin silver paper negatives, overall, framed: 265.43 × 430.53 cm (104 ½ × 169 ½ in.), © Vera Lutter, courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2013.43.1

Lutter uses the most primitive of photographic apparatuses—a camera obscura—to create monumental photographs. To capture this view of the Grand Canal in Venice, she transformed a room into a camera obscura by darkening all of the windows and leaving only a small opening that projected an image of the exterior world onto the opposite wall, where she hung large sheets of photographic paper. The two-day-long exposure captured the movement of the city (seen, for instance, in the gondolas that eerily disappear into the misty waters), juxtaposing the historical buildings with evidence of contemporary life.

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Detail from Vera Lutter, Ca’ del Duca Sforza, Venice II: January 13–14, 2008, 2008, gelatin silver paper negatives, © Vera Lutter, courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York

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Uta Barth, American, born Germany, 1958, . . . and to draw a bright white line with light (Untitled 11.5), 2011, three inkjet prints, overall, framed: 95.41 × 431.64 cm (37 9/16 × 169 15/16 in.), Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, 2014.30.1.1-3

This triptych captures light that falls on Barth’s gauzy living room curtains. Ribbons of bright white articulate the folds of the curtain, while the cloth itself substantiates and gives form to the intangible light. The shifting shapes that stretch across the three panels chart the changing position of the sun as its rays stream through the window, delineating the passage of time.

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Detail (left) from Uta Barth, . . . and to draw a bright white line with light (Untitled 11.5), 2011, inkjet print, Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

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Detail (center) from Uta Barth, . . . and to draw a bright white line with light (Untitled 11.5), 2011, inkjet print, Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

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Detail (right) from Uta Barth, . . . and to draw a bright white line with light (Untitled 11.5), 2011, inkjet print, Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

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Linda Connor, American, born 1944, July 23, 1903, 2002, gelatin silver print, 25.3 × 20.3 cm (9 15/16 × 8 in.), © Regents of the University of California, courtesy of the University of California Observatories. This image is from the Lick Observatory’s Mount Hamilton Plate Archives. 2013.82.2

This and the following three photographs are part of a series Connor made using glass-plate negatives culled from the archives of the Lick Observatory in California. Connor set the negatives, including some that had suffered cracks or shatters, directly onto photographic paper and exposed them to natural light. Layering astronomical time over human time, the resulting prints depict the cosmological phenomena recorded decades ago, which capture light that originally emanated from stars tens of thousands of years ago. The evidence of damage on the archival negatives heightens our awareness of the lapse between the creation of the original exposure (its date indicated by the title) and Connor’s own work.

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Linda Connor, American, born 1944, September 3, 1895, 2002, gelatin silver print, 25.4 × 20.2 cm (10 × 7 15/16 in.), © Regents of the University of California, courtesy of the University of California Observatories. This image is from the Lick Observatory’s Mount Hamilton Plate Archives. 2013.82.4

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Linda Connor, American, born 1944, April 16, 1893, 1997, gelatin silver print, 24.5 × 20 cm (9 5/8 × 7 7/8 in.), © Regents of the University of California, courtesy of the University of California Observatories. This image is from the Lick Observatory’s Mount Hamilton Plate Archives. 2013.82.1

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Linda Connor, American, born 1944, August 10, 1955, 1996, gelatin silver print, 20.2 x 25 cm (7 15/16 x 9 13/16 in.), © Regents of the University of California, courtesy of the University of California Observatories. This image is from the Lick Observatory’s Mount Hamilton Plate Archives. 2013.82.3

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