Ian Kramar



Happy accidents. Its one thread that runs through the entirety of my photographic work and culminates in a number of new ends in the exhibition “Around, Again” that I share with Sean Hernandez at The Foundation Gallery for PhotoNOLA 2015. The miracles of beauty are born of controlled chaos, and, as anyone who has attempted to paint along with Bob Ross knows, capturing those happy accidents is not as easy as it looks.

My main collaborators in creating and capturing those sparks of sightliness were originally homemade or modified cameras, usually toys made out of plastic, and film. I pressed the very unsoundness of the cameras, harnessing a chaotic but bounded arena for creating altogether otherworldly images.

I’m talking about lens flares, light leaks, imperfections in the lenses, and distortions created by the outsized dimensions of the cameras themselves, all reshaping the light between the world we see and all share, and the silver particles emulsified in the film.

As cellphone photography first started growing, I was underwhelmed at the proliferation of apps that emulated the same effects I had been producing on film for years. I sought to take the malleability of the digital images far beyond what was initially available by reinventing and repurposing those initial apps. In the same ways cross-processing film can yield drastic color shifts, and layering multiple exposures can distort perspectives, I found ways to create similar effects by deliberately misusing apps, such as those for High Dynamic Range photography, or for creating so-called “tiny planets” through Polar Distortions of panoramic and other images.

As the variety of image manipulation apps expanded, I found it increasingly exhilarating that many of the things I avoided because they were just too computorially cumbersome, or required hours of painstaking manipulation to produce the wanted results, were becoming possible in the palm of my hand, requiring just a few taps and a few minutes patience, instead of hours or even days.

The images I’m presenting for “Around, Again” illustrate the photographic knowledge and experience that was shaped by my early focus on negative manipulation with modified cameras, and how that knowledge and experience evolved, as I applied it to the manipulation of digital files by way of guiding unpredictable processes in the pursuit of happy accidents.