I have seized the light—
I have arrested its flight!
— Louis Daguerre
Ever since Louis Daguerre’s experiments in the darkroom in the 1820s, Étienne-Jules Marey and Georges Demenÿ’s methods of capturing human movement 60 years later, and May Ray’s adaption of the photogram (into what he coined “rayograms” in the 1930s), scientists, inventors, and photographers have searched for methods of creating images that employ light as something other than a tool to illuminate the subject situated before a camera.
Many contemporary artists continue to produce images using analogue processes that capture the spirit of these innovations in their handling of light as a material, and the camera and darkroom as tools and sites of experimentation. Tim Roda and Jim Verburg’s use of “outmoded” equipment such as photocopiers and pinhole cameras, the careful regulation of light by Isabel M. Martinez within the camera and Alison Rossiter in the darkroom, the capture of fleeting light effects and their migration between the digital and analogue realms by Sarah Sands Phillips and Katarina Riopel, and the colourful assemblages of Liz Nielsen demonstrate that the poetic potential of light remains an enduring area of artistic experimentation.