Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-09-30
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


John Neff: Left to his own devices
PHOTOGRAPHY Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Melissa Wasserman

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Small, black-and-white, representational photographs make up Chicago-based artist John Neff's first solo museum exhibit at The Renaissance Society March 3 through April 14. The artist takes an approach in which he twists straight photography into something not so straight.

Neff's previous exhibitions have featured multi-layered installations made up of photographs, sculptures and text with some color. This series, his largest solo exhibition, is the first time his photography will stand by itself. However, the pure photography project is far from the simple point-and-shoot. Not only having produced the pictures, he also constructed the camera. The mechanism involves a tripod that anchors an antique box camera, which is then attached to a scanner that is driven by a laptop, which is tethered with a USB cord.

"I love photography and doing this work has made me love it even more and I have a different relationship with it now," said Neff. "Working within a framework that forces you to think about what you're looking at—and how you're looking at it—in a different way is exciting."

Learning about the constructed camera several years ago and playing with it off and on, he started constructing the scanner camera out of antique medium format bellows, lenses, camera bodies and low-end consumer-grade scanners. Neff said after some time he began using the device for shooting as opposed to just treating it like a novelty distinguishing him from others who may just assemble them as a hobby.

"In a way that challenge made it easier for me to make the transition to doing work that was entirely photographic," said Neff. "There was something about the peculiarities that made it a more intimate experience or maybe made it seem less technically daunting since everything was broken to begin with."

Neff explained the challenges that the device presents include the long exposure time and the unusual pattern of exposure, resembling the way a scanner would scan a document from left to right. When using a linear sensor that travels over time from left to right, something could be happening in one part of the picture and could be over by the time the sensor captures that part of the frame. When the artist is actually taking the pictures, he is not just thinking about what's in front of him, but what's going to happen over the duration of the exposure. The process also results in images resemble the look and feel of earlier moments in the medium's history.

"You're thinking about how you're putting together the picture and how you're taking it, it's shifted a little bit," he said of taking photos with his hand-made camera. "In that sense I think it probably allowed me to have a different thought about how I was taking pictures, which probably resulted in different pictures. That's a way of explaining why I thought it was a worthwhile challenge to use that device as opposed to an actual camera."

In a previous statement, Hamza Walker, associate curator and director of education at The Renaissance Society, and curator of Neff's exhibition, said he has enjoyed Neff's work for years and was particularly drawn to this body of work because of its 'formal/technical innovation.' "The process of using a hand-built camera which combines a traditional lens with a digital flatbed scanner erases any digital/analog divide," he said. "The shutter's click gives way to the scanner's drone, betraying a more protracted mediation of 'the decisive moment.' These photographs, with their fine tonal gradation and scan lines, come across as a delayed transmission—a remote past in which we just so happen to be living."

Over the course of 18 months in 2011-2012, Neff used his scanner camera to photograph his immediate environment and life experiences in Chicago. Describing every photo opportunity as having a degree of intimacy, he photographed anything that struck him as appealing. Subjects represented in his photographs range from candid to posed and portray mixed tones. While some depict everyday objects one may not stop to observe such as a chair or the bathroom garbage, others evoke more eroticism with subjects such as a naked body.

"These things interest me," Neff said. "I make pictures of people, places and things I find attractive, beautiful and also, situations that are interesting simply because I encounter them everyday. I'm a gay man, and my work comes from my life, so my sexuality is an important part of my work."

For more information on The Renaissance Society, call 773-702-8670 or visit . Admission is free for John Neff's exhibition at The Renaissance Society. An opening reception will be held Sunday, March 3, 4-7 p.m., with a talk with the artist 5-6 p.m. in Kent Hall Room 107.

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Upcoming: Andersonville Arts Weekend; By Women, For Women 2015-10-06
Lambda expands work for LGBT youth: Ingelhart joins Midwest Regional Office 2015-10-04
Nightspots photos: Block Party; Madonna; WCT 30th 2015-09-30
Performance artist Karen Finley talks AIDS, pope, Planned Parenthood 2015-09-30
Upcoming: Health symposium; Open Books; Lynch; Martin, Short; CrossTown; PrEP talk 2015-09-30
Howard Brown and Gerber/Hart to partner on North Side facility 2015-09-30
NUNN ON ONE: TV Chicago designer excels on the 'Runway' 2015-09-29
Columbia College alumni give art history a gender-identity makeover 2015-09-29
ART 'Gender Treason': Being queer in Kansas City 2015-09-29
Chicago Humanities Fest presents Four Women: Josephine, Eartha, Nina and Tina 2015-09-24
Andersonville Arts and Design Weekend Oct. 9-11 2015-09-24
EXPO CHICAGO expands boundaries of art 2015-09-23
Ceremony honors interior designers 2015-09-23
World: Marriage stalled; pro-LGBT move in Nepal; rugby partnership 2015-09-23
Upcoming: Avondale; Victory Fund; A Day With HIV; Ashley Judd; PrEP forum 2015-09-23
Gillibrand, Nadler launch campaign to designate Stonewall Inn a national park site 2015-09-19
DIFFA party raises more than $15K 2015-09-17
4th annual A Day In Avondale 2015-09-17
Bessie, Jane Lynch honored; first season Empire out; Project&, EXPO CHICAGO join 2015-09-16
2nd Annual Bisexual Awareness Week (#biweek) starts Sept. 20 2015-09-15
Positively Aware and TPAN call for all to participate in A Day with HIV 2015-09-12
Upcoming: Queer-studies minor; Race forum part of Chicago Ideas Week 2015-09-09
VIEWS Labor Day, Walmart and me 2015-09-09
MUSIC Legendary jazz artist plays and shares his life 2015-09-09
LAKEVIEW EAST FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS Todd Mack reflects on festival 2015-09-08
Final 'Vives Q' for 2015 takes place with Carlos Mock 2015-09-08
Trans beach party a success 2015-09-02
Chef Art Smith, artist Jesus Salgueiro talk parenting, activism 2015-09-02
Chicago trans residents Davis and Brady part of MTV VMAs 2015-09-02
Upcoming events in politics, parties, health, art, music 2015-09-01
Androgynous model aims to change world through fashion 2015-09-01
Entertainment: Ricky Martin; Marc Jacobs; Maria Bello; Timberlake 2015-09-01
2nd Annual TransReelization opens hearts and unlocks doors 2015-08-30
Upcoming: Fashion Fest; 'Downton' exhibit; Jeff Awards; Haymarket reading 2015-08-26
Entertainment: Josh Hutcherson; 'Atlanta'; Zachary Quinto; Adam Lambert 2015-08-25
World: Murder suspect charged; fashion figure fired; Montreal parade 2015-08-25
Comic Con hosts thousands of fans 2015-08-25
Poet Kit Yan performs Queer Heartache at Chicago Fringe 2015-08-21
Upcoming in local art, music, sports 2015-08-19
Entertainment news: Ellen; Eddie Redmayne; Dolly Parton; Sam Smith 2015-08-18

Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.