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2018 Annual Conference

Philadelphia

March 01-04, 2018

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2018 SPE Annual Conference: Uncertain Times: Borders, Refuge, Community, Nationhood / Hosted by The University of the Arts

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Past SPE Annual Conferences

Derrick Burbul

SPE Member since 2006
Member Chapter: Midwest

Myths of the West

This series analyzes our relationship to our past through the lens of history onto an emulsion coated blackened plate, also known as the tintype.

The tintype was the photographic medium for the common man: cheap, quick to create, and one-of-a-kind. They appeared in 1856 and were at their height of popularity during the civil war and maintained popularity until turn of the century. The rise of the tintype coincides with the height of popularity of the Oregon Trail and the establishment of the Oregon Trail was the beginning of the transformation of this land from stomping ground for Buffalo to the Breadbasket of the World.

I focus my camera on symbols from history that have become kitsch: buffalo, covered wagons, teepees, etc. Looking at these objects through the lens of history in the form of tintypes cements these images as "real" scenes and not constructs of the artist, as can be achieved via PhotoShop or even darkroom manipulation, for the tintype is a one-of-a-kind object projected directly to the plate via the lens on the camera, therefore there exists no room to create a montage. The second thing that photographing these scenes using the tintype achieves is to strip away their sentimentality and regain these flora and fauna as species with intrinsic value and to return to the objects their sense purpose.

Myths of the West looks at the objects of our past and icons of the present, to create a dialogue about the effects humans have had, and continue to have, in altering our environment. It also looks at how flora, fauna, and the tools we create and how they have been transformed from real sentient beings and real useful tools, into kitschy object we take for granted.

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