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Photographs on science at Siano


Benjamin Pierce
Benjamin Pierce’s ENIAC 2 and 3, Digital C-print 31.5 x 28″. I couldn’t get a decent shot with all the reflections.

That word “abstract” keeps turning up like a bad penny. This month plus a couple of weeks into January, the Second Annual Abstract Photography Exhibition is at Gallery Siano. And I could spend the whole post questioning the abstract chops of any of the photos on display. But why bother?

I’d rather cut to the chase: What captured my imagination in this show was work by Benjamin Pierce. Pierce’s photos focus on bits and pieces of Eniac, the first computer, built and still residing at the University of Pennsylvania (I don’t think it can be moved. It’s a monster).

Pierce’s C-prints of the behemoth first computer suggest antiquity and time machines and Victorian science. A brown cast colors all the pictures, turning them into sepia-toned old portraits. There are metallic widgets of various sorts that might power Frankenstein or inflict shock treatment. And the light has the magical quality of dusty attics.

It’s a reminder of how miraculous this thing was–and still is–and how antithetical to our notions of modernity.

Pierce also has work hanging at Re: Construction, an exhibit at the Art Institute of Philadelphia.

Deborah Raven
Deborah Raven’s Metal Point, Chromira Print, 25 x 33″

Ultra closeups are the strategy for two of the other photographers in the exhibit. Amongst the chromira prints of metal tools by Deborah Raven, Metal Point was most interesting for its crustiness. This photograph succeeds by raising questions about the gap between scientific truth and perceptual truth.

Rose Mackiewicz
Untitled #2 by Rose Mackiewicz, archival digital photograph, 19 x 25″

Janette Bradley Smith made closeup pigment prints of magnolias. Digital inkjet prints of architectural patterns by Gary Koutsoubis and digital photos of found and created bits of color from Rose Mackiewicz round out the show. In enjoyed the ebullient colors and textures in Mackiewicz images.