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Dr. Melvin Hale (ArtistLA)



UCLA (University of California Los Angeles), 2014, PhD

photo, street, digital, photography, realism, mixed-media, photorealism, colorizing

Artist Statement

I call my digital compositions Artegraphs. They are a creative fusion of artistic vision

and photographs. They bring together the old monochromatic world of black-and-white

and the new world of unlimited color. The method I use to accomplish this transformation

comprises what I know, what I believe and what I imagine. K-B-I. The KBI method was

itself transformed into a scientific theory of seeing and knowing. Theory emerged from

an artifact-based practice. Denzin and Lincoln write that "Artifact-oriented studies can

play an important role in alerting scholars and lay audiences to information and materials

they may otherwise know little about." While I have used various types of black-and white

photographs in my work, the particular artifact I engage with the most is the real photo

postcard, or RPPC. More specifically I am focused on the genre of postcards called

street scenes. The abundance of material culture, the built environment and social

ideology that street scenes store in visual format is exceptional. They are rich

repositories of cultural information. My art and my research highlights the need

to preserve and explore them.


RPPCs represent the phenomenology of a new domain of knowledge. While the

taking of a photograph is an intentional act, calling into question the motives of the

photographer, Luc Sante reminds us that unlike a bow and arrow aimed at a target,

"a camera by its nature ensures that some kind of target will always be hit, if not

necessarily the intended target nor in the intended way." A certain level of random-

ness is therefore associated with all photographs. Photographs are like visual archives,

embodying in their chemical substrates what I call Visual Social Memories. When they

are brought to life in living color the past seems less distant, and more real. I do this

work because I enjoy it. It keeps me sane and grounded, and connected. Writing is

no doubt a powerful tool for conveying knowledge. But photographs, because they

are visual, can say so much more in less time, because vision operates at the

speed of light. In that sense, I hope that my art is enlightening and uplifting.


Sante wrote that photographs offer a view of life somehow unfinished, a type of

Still Life. I enjoy being about to reimagine those moments from fifty, sixty, and

seventy or more years ago as if they were only yesterday.

You can learn more about me, my art and my research at




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