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Art and Architecture: Robert Burley, Alison Nordström, Arezoo Moseni - The Disappearance of Darkness - An Artist Dialogue Series Event

April 4, 2013

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Betsy in Window, Entrance, Polaroid, Enschede, The Netherlands, 2010. © Robert BurleyBetsy in Window, Entrance, Polaroid, Enschede, The Netherlands, 2010. © Robert Burley

In the brief time Robert Burley spent documenting the industrial infrastructure supporting analog photography, the world embraced a digital age. Suddenly a global population abandoned their film cameras and began to create and share photographs using data-driven devices. Companies such as Kodak and Polaroid were reduced to shadows of their former selves, or worse, as they attempted to adapt. Burley traveled the world with his 4x5 field camera to record factories that were literally disappearing before his eyes, capturing this technological transition on film before it too vanished. Join Robert Burley and Alison Nordström for a discussion, about The Disappearance of Darkness, moderated by Arezoo Moseni.

Film Coating Facility, Agfa-Gevaert, Mortsel, Belgium, #1, 2007. © Robert BurleyFilm Coating Facility, Agfa-Gevaert, Mortsel, Belgium, #1, 2007. © Robert Burley

Seventy-one of Burley’s atmospheric large-format photographs transport viewers to rarely seen sites where the alchemy of the photographic process was practiced over the last century, from the Polaroid plant in Waltham, Massachusetts to the Kodak-Pathé plant in Chalon-sur-Saône, France, the birthplace in 1827 of photography itself. As both fine art and documentary, The Disappearance of Darkness: Photography at the End of the Analog Era (2012 Princeton Architectural) is an elegiac reflection on the resilience of traditional art forms in the digital era and a vital commemoration of a century-old industry that seems to have disappeared overnight. In addition to Burley’s introductory essay, three curators from some of the world’s leading photographic collections have written texts about this dizzying moment in photographic history. These are Alison Nordström, George Eastman House – International Museum of Photography & Film, Rochester, François Cheval, Musée Niépce , Chalon sur Saône, France, and Andrea Kunard, National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. 

Copies of the book are available for purchase and signing at the event after the audience Q&A.

Stairwell to Drying Rooms, Building 13, Kodak Canada, Toronto, 2005. © Robert Burley.Stairwell to Drying Rooms, Building 13, Kodak Canada, Toronto, 2005. © Robert Burley.

Robert Burley’s photography explores the relationship between nature and cities, architecture and the urban landscape. Burley’s photographs have been extensively published and exhibited and can be found in numerous collections including, the National Gallery of Canada, Musée de l’Elysée, George Eastman House, Canadian Centre for Architecture and Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal. Other publications featuring his work include Viewing Olmsted: Photographs by Robert Burley, Lee Friedlander and Geoffrey James. Burley’s exhibition, The Disappearance of Darkness will travel in North America and Europe over the next four years. He currently teaches at Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts in Toronto, Canada.

Implosions of Buildings 65 and 69, Kodak Park, Rochester, New York #1, October 6, 2007. © Robert BurleyImplosions of Buildings 65 and 69, Kodak Park, Rochester, New York #1, October 6, 2007. © Robert BurleyAlison Nordström is Senior Curator of Photographs at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film and the Director of their Graduate Programs in Photographic Preservation and Collections management. She has curated over 150 exhibitions of historical and contemporary photographs including the popular biennial series Fresh Work, and major surveys of landscape, portraiture, travel photographs and journalism. At George Eastman House, she curated a major Lewis Hine exhibition currently touring in Europe and co-curated the recreation of the famed exhibition, New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-altered Landscape, with Britt Salveson. She holds the PhD in Cultural and Visual Studies and writes and lectures extensively on a wide variety of photographic topics. She has received the Griffin Museum Lifetime Achievement Award, the Apple Valley Foundation Travel Grant for Curatorial Excellence, the Ansel Adams Fellowship (University of Arizona) and the Robert Rauschenberg Residency Award for Critical Writing.

End of Employee Meeting, West Parking Lot, Last Day of Manufacturing Operations, Kodak Canada, Toronto, June 29, 2005. © Robert BurleyEnd of Employee Meeting, West Parking Lot, Last Day of Manufacturing Operations, Kodak Canada, Toronto, June 29, 2005. © Robert BurleyInitiated and organized by Arezoo Moseni in 2004, Artist Dialogues Series provide an open forum for understanding and appreciation of contemporary art. Artists are paired with critics, curators, gallerists, writers or other artists to converse about art and the potential of exploring new ideas.