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Anna Artaker | The Pencil of Nature

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Location Description
tresor of Kunstforum Wien, Freyung 8, 1010 Vienna (Free admission)

The exhibition is part of the arts-based research project Mediums of History that takes place at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (supported by the Science Fund FWF in the framework of PEEK). The research project will also be presented on the basis of the exhibiton at the Arts-based Research Day at the Academy on May 23rd.

The exhibition borrows the title of the publication with which William Henry Fox Talbot introduced his photographic method in 1844–46: The Pencil of Nature. To produce the first photograms, Talbot pressed plants onto sensitised paper with glass plates and exposed them to the sun to fix them as negative silhouettes. I combine this moment of the “birth of photography from the spirit of botany” with nature printing, a technique perfected in the mid-nineteenth century by the k. k. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei (Austrian National Printing Office) in Vienna. Like the photogram, nature printing is also based on contact with nature “that gives its very self to printing” and produces faithful images not only of but also through nature. For the exhibition I have transposed plants seen on Talbot’s photograms into contemporary nature prints. Besides the prints, the exhibition also shows the different intermediate stages of the process and an original print from Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature.