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Carnegie Museum of Art launches photo initiative

April 25, 2013
The Herald-Star

PITTSBURGH - The Carnegie Museum of Art has launched the Hillman Photography Initiative to explore the intersection between art and technology in photography through a living laboratory.

For much of its history, photography has pervaded the world, but never more so than today, when non-stop technological innovations make it ever easier to take photographs and share them instantaneously.

There are more than eight billion pictures on the social media site Flickr and photographs on the Internet appear for seconds and then disappear, lost in a pictorial "newsfeed."

The initiative will explore how changing technology affects the meaning and value of photos; the public's belief in the veracity of photography; perceived intellectual and aesthetic criteria for cell phone photos and computer art; and photography as an evolving art.

The initiative will be driven by the collaboration of five "agents," consisting of four external experts and Carnegie Museum of Art curator Tina Kukielski, who also is co-curator of the 2013 Carnegie International.

The initiative will follow a 12-month cycle, beginning with a three-month planning period during which the agents will work together with program manager Divya Rao Heffley to choose a theme to inspire activities such as exhibitions, programs, collaborations, publications, commissioned works of art, artist residencies and online experiences.

Nathan Martin of the innovation/design studio Deeplocal will facilitate the process. Following the planning phase, Kukielski and Heffley will work with other museum staff to manage the implementation of the activities over the nine months that follow. Rollout of activities is expected in early 2014, although some may begin more quickly.

Additionally, the initiative will co-sponsor and collaborate on related projects at the museum and with other institutions.

The public will be able to track progress at initiative.cmoa.org.

The first group of agents includes, along with Tina Kukielski, Marvin Heiferman, independent curator and writer; Alex Klein, program curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Illah Nourbakhsh, professor of robotics and director of the CREATE Lab, Carnegie Mellon University; and Arthur Ou, assistant professor of photography and director, BFA photography, Parsons the New School for Design.

At the close of each 12-month cycle, two external agents will remain, while the other two positions will be filled with new contributors, allowing for both continuity and new perspectives.

While the initiative's focus is primarily on the future, it is also connected with the museum's efforts to collect, conserve and exhibit the entire breadth of the history of the medium.

Carnegie Museum of Art's collection includes the Teenie Harris Archive of nearly 80,000 images, one of the most detailed and intimate records of the urban black experience known today. The museum's 2011 exhibition "Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story" was hailed as a "remarkable accomplishment" by the Wall Street Journal.

In 1904, Alfred Stieglitz was invited to organize an exhibition at the museum, establishing the museum as one of the first in the country to recognize photography as an art. More recent exhibitions include "Digital to Daguerreotype: Photographs of People," which showed how photographers from the last 160 years explored the human subject through a wide range of artistic practices; "Impressionism in a New Light: From Monet to Stieglitz," an exploration of the relationship between Impressionism and the Pictorialist movement in photography; and "Yours Truly: Privately Collected Photographs," with vintage prints by some of the most outstanding photographers of the 20th century, including Brassai, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Robert Frank, Weegee and Garry Winogrand. Forty-six works from "Yours Truly" were announced as promised gifts to the museum from the collection of William T. Hillman, joining seven other works promised earlier in 2012.

Carnegie Museum of Art's collection includes the Teenie Harris Archive of nearly 80,000 images, one of the most detailed and intimate records of the urban black experience known today. The museum's 2011 exhibition "Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story" was hailed as a "remarkable accomplishment" by the Wall Street Journal.

 
 

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