It was an honor to have the analogue enthusiasts from the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas create a beautiful vignette during the Diana World Tour here in Austin. Our friends Alicia and Christine gave us the low-down on their experience with us back in July, and more info on the fascinating work conducted over at the HRC!
Analogue Enthusiasts from the Harry Ransom Center
The University of Texas Campus, Austin, Texas
Surrounded by great works of art and literature, we channeled the creative energy of the Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum, into photos for the Diana+ World Tour.
The central mission of the Ransom Center is to advance the study of the arts and humanities. To this end, the Center: Acquires original cultural material for the purposes of scholarship, education, and delight; Preserves and makes accessible these creations of our cultural heritage through the highest standards of cataloging, conservation, and collection management; Supports research through public services, symposia, publications, and fellowships; Provides education and enrichment for scholars, students, and the public at large through exhibitions, public performances, and lectures.
How are you guys!?
Christine: Enjoying the fall weather that has finally arrived!
Alicia: We’re good! We’re gearing up for our spring and summer exhibitions.
What was your favorite part of the Diana World Tour in Austin?
Christine: The party! No, it was lovely to be able to contribute and participate along with our peers in the cultural community. It was a chance for colleagues throughout the building to be creators, taking inspiration from the collections housed at the Harry Ransom Center. It was a surprise to see how the photos emerged, especially since many were unintentional double exposures!
Alicia: I loved seeing all the different Diana cameras and clones—there were so many! I thought people got really creative with making their own embellished Dianas with dioramas and pistol trigger-controlled shutters. It’s always inspiring to see so many creative people in Austin.
If you only had one day/night in Austin, how would you spend your time?
Christine: On a summer day, I’d pack my Sprocket Rocket for a morning run at Town Lake, then jump into Barton Springs. After enjoying an Otto from TacoDeli and a latte, I’d take an afternoon siesta before heading to a show at the Mohawk.
Alicia: I’d load my Holga and take a friend to the Greenbelt for a hike and a swim (on the rare occasion lately that there’s enough water flowing!).
What elements of Austin (or Texas in general) inspire your work?
Christine: The vibrant campus and downtown communities—plus the greenery that we take for granted. The photo featured in the World Tour was shot on the lawn of the Texas Capitol.
Alicia: I love all the natural landscapes around town—the Greenbelt, Town Lake, Shoal Creek, Zilker Park, and so many others right here in town.
What is the most exciting thing that you are working on right now?
Christine: Institutionally, we are readying for a spring exhibition of 200 portraits by Arnold Newman, who was best known for situating his subjects within their environment: Picasso, JFK, Marilyn Monroe, Salvador Dalí—all were captured on film by Newman.
Alicia: As a personal project, I’m taking darkroom classes so I can start developing my own film and prints from my Holga. It’s been a thrill to pull the film out of the canister and breathe a sigh of relief to see images actually show up. I can’t wait to start printing images next week!
Of all the mediums that you guys exhibit at the Ransom Center, which are you most interested in right now? What kinds of materials are you drawn to?
Christine: The artist collective Lakes Were Rivers is curating a summer exhibition at the Ransom Center, and we recently met with them to see the new work that they have produced in response to the Ransom Center’s collections. Collaborative projects such as these renew your appreciation for the breadth of the Center’s holdings—from cyanotypes, to lunar photographs, to Man Ray, to photos of the Texas border in the 1800s.
Alicia: I’m looking forward to the Arnold Newman exhibition opening in February. You can actually trace his creative process through the archival materials and see how he arrives at a finished portrait. There’s a portrait of Picasso that Newman took that’s a fairly tight shot of Picasso’s face. But when you look at the contact sheets for that image, the original image was actually a much wider shot that Newman cropped. Visitors can see contact sheets side by side with final prints and clearly see artistic decisions that Newman made in his work.
Any particular influences that helped define/inspire the Ransom Center’s aesthetic?
Christine: The etched glass windows, part of the 2003 renovation by Lake/Flato, have permeated all aspects of the Ransom Center’s brand and aesthetic—understated elegance mixed with images of literature, film, photography, art, and performing art from the holdings.
In terms of the Ransom Center’s contributions to the Diana tour, everyone focused on different subjects – I wouldn’t say there was an overarching theme, which was part of the fun, because we weren’t sure what to expect once the film was developed!
Alicia: Ditto to what Christine said about the windows. When I was looking through the prints that our colleagues shot on the Diana, probably more than half of them had involved the window etchings in some capacity.
Up until recently, the Ransom Center was host to the first photo ever taken but it’s now on view in Berlin, Germany! How’s the ol’ Niépce piece doing in its new home?
Christine: From all reports, the exhibition and First Photograph are drawing huge crowds. We are excited to welcome the First Photograph back to its permanent home, the Ransom Center, in the spring.
Alicia: In fact, the exhibition at the Reiss Englehorn Museum in Mannheim, Germany, was so popular that they extended the dates of the show.
Join the Harry Ransom Center and Lomography Austin on Friday, February 15, 2013 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm for “Face to Face,” the opening celebration for the photography exhibition Arnold Newman: Masterclass. Enjoy refreshments from local sponsors and pose in one of Newman’s iconic portraits in an analog photo booth created by the Lomography Gallery Store Austin! Visit the official facebook event page for more details.
Monday – Friday: 11 am – 3 pm / 4 pm – 7 pm
Saturday: 11 am – 7 pm
Register for a LomoHome on Lomography.com with the voucher code lomographyaustx and get $10 to immediately spend in the online shop! Sign up for our Newsletter to get all the latest information on upcoming events and promotions!