Sunday, March 9, 2014

Daguerreotype to Digital at HNOC; Apophenia at Diboll

We are now in the depths of Lent, Mardi Gras is but a memory, so smaller and quieter is better, right? In this more contemplative mode, a quietly compact photo show that was easily overlooked amid the hoopla stands out. The Historic New Orleans Collection's Daguerreotype to Digital expo at its Williams Research Center is way more than its Photographic Processes subtitle suggests, mainly because of its often tiny, yet sometimes stunning, examples culled from the Collection's vast inventory of over 100,000 photographs. For instance, a truly Shakespearean looking 1874 King of Carnival sits in slumped repose, like a medieval warrior monarch just back from battle, in an small albumen print by Pierre Petit. Similarly, a larger if no less striking 1875 salted paper print of a dapper Creole named St. Andre Matt, resplendent in formal attire and stovepipe hat, conveys a quietly dramatic charisma. Even a modest, anonymous 1910 cyanotype of two Decatur Street stores, Bartel's Pet shop and Weingart's Fireworks, is like a magic window into the past replete with nonchalant shopkeepers and children in the doorways. But surely the most mysterious of all must be, I am Longing for Tomorrow When I Think of Yesterday, top, a small, circa 1911 tinted glass lantern slide of a fancy dressed gent on a beach. Attributed to the Crescent City Film Exchange and titled after a pop song, this surreal reprise of the popular imagination of the period is just one of the obscure gems featured here.

Matt Shlian's large Apophenia exhibit at Loyola's Diboll Gallery also offers a quiet, if contemporary, mix of science and visual poetry. Seamlessly melding modern art, architecture and pure geometry, Shlian's cut paper sculptures, like the untitled piece below, illustrate how pattern recognition techniques link modern technology with the idealized pure forms envisioned by Plato back in classical times when art and science were all part of the same cosmic worldview. ~Bookhardt

Daguerreotype to Digital: A Presentation of Photographic Processes, through March 29, HNOC Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St. 523-4662;  Apophenia: Paper Sculpture by Matt Shlian, through March 21, Collins C. Diboll Gallery, Loyola University, 861-5456.