Media Monday: Disappearance of Darkness

The Disappearance of Darkness:  Photography at the End of the Analog Era



Robert Burley


“To be present at these events made me realize I was witnessing not only a radical change in my medium but also a dizzying moment in history.”

Robert Burley began documenting the demise of analog photography manufacturers in 2005.  The book of this project was published this month by Princeton Architectural Press.  The book is hardcover, 160 pages, featuring 71 large format prints.  

“The book marks a point in time when photography  – at least photography as practiced by the majority – ceased to be a physical medium,” says Burley. “Photographs are no longer material objects created on film or paper – they have become dematerialized data stored in a cloud somewhere else. This alters one of the photograph’s most important characteristics – it’s relationship to time and place.”

A review by Pete Brook from "Wired":....'Part documentary, part devotional gesture, The Disappearance of Darkness includes essays of fantastic insight by Alison Nordstrom, curator at George Eastman House; François Cheval, chief curator of the Niepce Museum; and Andrea Kunard, associate curator of photographs at the National Gallery of Canada. There’s much to contemplate and as such the book is a photography nerd’s tome. Nordstrom writes:
“The advent of chemical photography was sudden and celebrated. [...] Perhaps no technological invention since movable type has so profoundly affected how and what we know or remember, and how we understand ourselves. Unlike the start of this phenomenom, however, the end has come, in T.S. Eliot’s words, ‘not with a bang but  a whimper.’”
Even though Burley now sees the shuttering of former film manufacturers as “inevitable,” and even though he witnessed closures and demolition first-hand, he doesn’t yet know exactly what it all means.'
At this pivotal point in the history of photography, what do you think it all means?