Darkroom charts the physical and psychic terrain of photographic printing rooms while conveying their transition from the realm of pure functionality into historical artifact. Indirect portraits of both producer and product, Bartos’ work explores the physical space linking artist to artwork and linking the tools of the medium to the signs of their use.
As more darkrooms switch to digital printing or close shop altogether, we become more aware that the tangible elements of darkroom printing may one day be lost. Bartos’ recent large-format work documents and explores in equal measure the visual language and ethos of that analogue printing culture before it slips beyond our experience forever.
The acrid odour of chemistry, an uncanny stillness hanging in damp air – Bartos records the descriptive aspects and spatial constraints of the darkroom but also visualizes the lab as a site of limitless creative potential, invested with asnmuch aura as a photographic print. Heroic and humbling at the same time, these portraits speak to the individuality of the workspaces and their inhabitants but also to the shared architecture of all darkrooms.
Bartos presents us with the perceptual tools to know the darkroom as it is today and to remember it one day as it will have been. Adam Bartos’ photographs have been exhibited throughout the United States and Europe and were included in the recent MoMA exhibition “Into the Sunset: Photography’s Image of the American West”. Monographs of his work include International Territory, KOSMOS, Yard Sale Photographs, and Boulevard, published by Steidl in in 2005.