Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

Dan Zarlenga: Night Visions

Posted in art, Hike, Jason Gray, photography, technique, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on May 30, 2016

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I have been curating the exhibitions at The Dark Room Photo Gallery and Wine Bar for a year and a half, and I am pretty excited about the next exhibit opening on Friday, June 3rd (more info in the link above).  Dan Zarlenga: Night Visions has the ability to appeal to a really wide audience, with some stunning images of landscapes that you are likely to never have seen in exactly this way.

From Dan:

“Under the dark cloak of night, the world becomes an open palate upon which you can play with light in new and creative ways.  When it comes to photography, daylight is merely an option.”

Installation video 1 (measuring the space and discussing the sequence of images):

Installation video 2 (mounting the show):

My Curator’s Statement:

Landscape photography is one of the medium’s venerable genres. It is also one that tends to idealize the subject no matter the art historical or technical approach. From Timothy O’Sullivan’s awe-inspiring virginal vistas, to Steichen’s Mamaroneck Pond, to Ansel Adams’ previsualized wizardry, this has always been true. Even some modern “landscape photographers”, like Andreas Gursky, idealize the non-uniqueness of open spaces by distilling out everything extraneous from a scene. Dan Zarlenga carries on this tradition in his work; a photographic auteur, he skillfully employs post-processing techniques to blend several images into the single ideal vision that he has for his photographs. Though his editing process is technically similar to that of many contemporary artists, like Beatte Gütschow, Dan pursues a grander statement with his landscapes, much more akin to the aforementioned Adams.

Traditionally, time of day (not night!) and environmental conditions have been the two most regulating factors for determining when landscape photographers conduct their work. Zarlenga breaks a bit from what has come before in this way. Certainly, very few photographers have thought to present the Missouri landscape using nighttime long exposures combined with light painting, which lends a reverent, almost mystical, quality to the pictures. That so many stars can be seen so close by, is probably surprising enough for many St. Louisans.

Dan Zarlenga’s Night Visions is a visual ode to the natural world’s nocturnal state, but it is also an illustration of the technological advantages digital photographers have over their film counterparts and an example of how artists continue to push the boundaries of photography in new directions. Digital manipulation is often criticized by photographic traditionalists, but what is photographic truth in the face of artistic truth? After all, like photographer Stephen Shore said, “…a photographer solves a picture more than composes one.”

Installation video 3 (some final touches):

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