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Community Supported Art
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2017 Artists
  Grimaldi Baez
  Leah Bailis
  Marc Blumthal
  Julianna Foster
  Alexis Nutini
  Lucia Thomé
 
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  Studio Visit with Marc Blumthal
   
 

For our winter CSA studio visit with Marc Blumthal we met up at U Penn, where he teaches printmaking, to see his newest photographic prints. The high-tech photo lab where Marc laid out his prints for the CSA project was the perfect backdrop for the cool colors of his diffuse and ghostly iPhone photographs.

Right off the bat, it was evident that Marc has exceptional attention to detail. He prepared multiple prints of the same image on a range paper options to show us the varying levels of contrast. (Marc is our kind of materials wonk!) Conversely, he is also interested in chance and developing images that are mediated through technology. In his current photographic process, he purposely overloads his phone’s memory with images causing the camera to freeze and send that annoying text bubble warning that your phone is out of storage space (which is something we can all relate to). However, Marc discovered that a positive byproduct of this annoyance is that the phone loses vital digital data for the last image taken, which becomes blurred as a result.


Marc embraces this surprising transmutation and, as he puts it: “This process is a representation my changing comfort level with technology and just being able to use it and be free with it.”


Not being entirely sure how he captures his images, we asked Marc to elaborate about how he originally discovered his process.


 

“I discovered the process through having a phone that had very limited storage. Not to sound like an iPhone geek, but my first smartphone was an iphone 4s with 8 gigabytes of storage, which seemed like a lot. Little did I know... So the phone would readily fill up and blur the screen when it froze. I had been thinking about this as a potential way to create images for years but it wasn’t until I got a new iphone 6 that I figured out how to reliably produce a blurred image and then screen shot the image to save and print.”

 

Ironically, it is the chance discovery of this blurred out image that captures things in a way that has the most clarity for the artist. While his CSA project is entirely digital in format, it is clearly a critique on digital technology and process that is informed by his academic training in printmaking. When pushing his phone’s camera to its storage limits, Marc describes some strange things that happen that are beyond his control.

 

“I have to say that this process does some other weird things, I have some photos that are very strange that have some digital clipping in just some parts and not others. For instance, there will be an image that’s completely white with a little tab that’s a lime green color, and it’s really strange that it just happened in that one little area… Or another example is an image that turned out completely gray.”

“Lithography was also discovered from an accident, from a stain on a surface. And then you wonder what could happen if I did this, then this, then this? It’s all an experiment of trying to figure out the right combination of things”

The inspiration for Marc’s CSA edition comes from the intersection of his analog printmaking background and his interest in embracing digital technology. Marc’s affinity for color, space and composition come rushing to the surface of his images, but his research into new ways of cultivating images creates a rich contemporary documentation of a device losing function, creating images that are a metaphor for time and a record of the past.

For his CSA project, Marc is printing fifty unique iPhone photographs that will be housed in a custom etched folder, designed by the artist. You can buy a share here.
-- Ephraim Russell, 2017 Community Supported Art Organizer
-- Photos by Mike Konrad, 2017 Community Supported Art Organizer
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Community Supported Art is program of Grizzly Grizzly and Co.
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