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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Jerry Spagnoli

Dates:  1956, 14 January -
Born:  US, NY, New York
Active:  US
Contemporary Daguerreotypist. 
Artist statement: 
What is special about the daguerreotype is inherent in its physical structure. The daguerreotype plate, being a sheet of polished silver, has an invisible substrate, it permits the viewer to directly engage the subject. What I mean by that is, when you look at a conventional photograph from the 1850s on, printed on paper or some other surface, you are always looking at a chemical stain of some sort, usually silver, on a textured surface, however subtly textured, it is textured and therefore present. With a daguerreotype the substrate is a mirror and the subject is suspended in this optical medium.
Clarity is an essential aspect of the camera’s relationship to the world, daguerreotypes are uniquely capable of rendering images with that purity. It is unquestionably the ideal material if your interest in photography is the relationship of the camera and lens to the world, and that is the reason that I use it.

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Contemporary: Noble processes
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Jerry Spagnoli

Artist statement on the "Anatomical Details" series:
What you have with daguerreotypes is a hyper-reality effect at the focal plane and then a very rapid falling away of focus ... this conflict... this push and pull of objective and subjective, information and oblivion was highlighted by both the daguerreotypes and the photomicrographs. There is something else about daguerreotypes which I hadn’t realized until I made these images, particularly with hands and fingernails. Daguerreotypes emphasis the perishability of flesh. The parts of the body where blood flows close to the surface are rendered darker than the surrounding skin because of the peculiar color sensitivity of the plate. This darkening at the surface where contact between the inside of the body and the outside occurs is an unsettling reminder of our physical vulnerability, our mortality.
You can see where I stole poses from paintings, which is entirely appropriate given that the Renaissance is where photography was invented. I should say it is the moment where the ambition which resulted in photography was born. They just didn’t have the means, the chemicals weren’t available, some of the mechanical apparatus wasn’t ready but clearly the desire to depict the world that animated the interests of all of the Renaissance was a photographic vision. One of the thoughts in the back of my mind while working on this project was, “What if Leonardo had the daguerreotype at his disposal?”  
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