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 2016-10-26
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 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 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.


Gay News

TRAVEL Enchanting, artistic, gay Philadelphia 2016-10-26 - Philadelphia, the nation's fourth largest city, feels vibrant, its walls covered in more than 3,500 murals, its narrow streets buzzing with excitement—and traffic. ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Starting Over 2016-10-26 - Playwright: Shepsu Aakhu. At: MPAACT at the Greenhouse, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: $16-$32. Runs through: Nov. 20 The course of true ...

Gay News

Gay activist/scholar headlines 'Home Is Where the Art Is' 2016-10-26 - Openly gay Puerto Rican writer, activist and scholar Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes was the featured speaker at the "Home Is Where the Art Is: ...

Gay News

Grace-period (in-person) voter registration through Nov. 7, printable charts 2016-10-26 - Grace-period ( in-person ) voter registration is taking place through Nov. 7. This is for those who missed the Oct. 11 deadline ...

Gay News

After Orlando, PF&P and national partners present staged readings 2016-10-25 - Producer Iris Sowlat, in association with Chicago's Pride Arts Center, Missing Bolts Productions Inc. ( Blair Baker & Zac Kline artistic directors ) ...

Gay News

Early voting for the Nov. 8 general election has started 2016-10-24 - Through Oct. 23, early voting is taking place in Chicago only at 15 W. Washington St. at the new Loop Super Site. Through ...

Gay News

SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Partners in drama 2016-10-19 - Los Angeles-based writers and spouses Nancy Nyman and Heather McNama were grateful to win the 2015 Pride Films and Plays' LezPlay Competition with ...

Gay News

Queer comic artist/dancer Rosalarian makes what women really want 2016-10-19 - Femme comic-book artist/burlesque dancer Megan Rose Gedris is as unique as the artistic name given to her as a child. "The name 'Rosalarian' ...

Gay News

ELECTIONS 2016 Printable charts, early voting information, grace-period, registration 2016-10-19 - Charts Consult the Windy City Times 2016 General Election charts for endorsements and recommendations from a number of local and national organizations. See ...

Gay News

BENT NIGHTS Tim Cain; The Seth Bogart Show 2016-10-18 - More queerness... Taking up the flank for old-school queer rock we have Tim Cain and Boy's Entrance, and the new Tunnelvision on ...


Copyright © 2016 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.
[email protected]  •  [email protected]  •  [email protected]

Website Powered by