The Renaissance Society presents a solo exhibition by Chicago-based artist John Neff from March 3-April 14, 2013. The exhibition includes a new body of photographs made from digital cameras Neff built by outfitting desktop scanners with bellows and lenses taken from antique cameras. Made without shutters or viewfinders, the cameras capture images using a slow-moving linear scanning array, rather than a full-field sensor. Over the course of 18 months, Neff used the scanner cameras to photograph his immediate environment, his long-exposure photographic process resulting in intimate, tonally rich images that have the look and feel of earlier moments in the medium’s history.
The Renaissance Society show is Neff’s first solo museum exhibition. The artist's previous exhibitions featured multi-layered installations constructed from sculptural, photographic, mechanical and textual elements.
“I have been a fan of John's work for many years now. What drew me to this body of small scale black and white photographs in particular is its formal/technical innovation,” says Hamza Walker, associate curator and director of education at The Renaissance Society, and curator of Neff’s exhibition. “The process of using a hand-built camera which combines a traditional lens with a digital flatbed scanner erases any digital/analog divide. The shutter's click gives way to the scanner's drone, betraying a more protracted mediation of ‘the decisive moment.’ These photographs, with their fine tonal gradation and scan lines, come across as a delayed transmission—a remote past in which we just so happen to be living.”