Artist uses X-Ray films for photographs

August 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
We're living in a golden age of photography, with pictures stored on our phones, laptops and tablets.

Just about anywhere in San Francisco, you will find people living double lives when it comes to 'getting their art on.' You might assume Darren Samuelson does it with renderings of sushi.

"I can't contain it," Samuelson said.

That's the night job. His day job -- creating works of art -- is more complicated.

Samuelson has turned his kitchen into a dark room and built his entire operation -- including his camera -- piece by piece in a small San Francisco apartment from scratch.

"I wanted the camera so I could take the pictures," Samuelson said. "It was just getting to the pictures."

Samuelson's camera is no ordinary camera either: Samuelson uses X-Ray film, something no normal camera would be able to handle, so he built his own six-foot long, 70 pounds camera.

Samuelson says he doesn't so much look into his camera as much as he climbs into it.

Samuelson's camera is also unconventional in that it doesn't have a shutter -- just pop the lens cap off and count, keeping careful watch that the camera doesn't move.

"That happens a lot," Samuelson said. "That's why I have to take more than one shot."

Samuelson will tell you again and again that the pictures he takes aren't perfect, and they're not supposed to be. A scratched and flawed photo of the Golden Gate Bridge is one of his favorites.

Samuelson's work reflects the classic philosophy that a true photograph is the end of a process, and one of a kind.

"There is something very old, something nostalgic about them for sure," he says. "They don't look like everything you see now because they aren't perfect."

His 19th-century technology lends a new perspective to our modern world, and perhaps our place in it.

A show of Darren's work opens this Saturday and runs through mid-September at the Inclusions Gallery in San Francisco.

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