Published by Steidl. Contribution by Nicholas Negroponte.
Darkroom charts the physical and psychic terrain of photographic printing rooms while conveying their transition from the realm of pure functionality into historical artifact. Indirect portraits of both producer and product, Bartos' work explores the physical space linking artist to artwork and linking the tools of the medium to the signs of their use. As more darkrooms switch to digital printing or close shop altogether, we become more aware that the tangible elements of darkroom printing may one day be lost. Bartos' recent large-format work documents and explores in equal measure the visual language and ethos of that analogue printing culture before it slips beyond our experience forever. The acrid odor of chemistry, an uncanny stillness hanging in damp air--Bartos records the descriptive aspects and spatial constraints of the darkroom but also visualizes the lab as a site of limitless creative potential, invested with as much aura as a photographic print. Heroic and humbling at the same time, these portraits speak to the individuality of the workspaces and their inhabitants but also to the shared architecture of all darkrooms. Bartos presents us with the perceptual tools to know the darkroom as it is today and to remember it one day as it will have been. Adam Bartos' photographs have been exhibited throughout the United States and Europe and were included in the MoMA exhibition Into the Sunset: Photography's Image of the American West. Monographs of his work include International Territory, KOSMOS, Yard Sale Photographs and Boulevard.
The yard sale is a perfect platform for bizarre conjunctions of objects, perhaps the only stage upon which the Compte de Lautréamont's famous “chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing machine and an umbrella” might occur of its own will. In turning his lens to the random constellations formed by rummaging and perusing, Adam Bartos has struck gold, with an idea so simple it seems odd nobody had thought of it before. His still lifes of "chance meetings" find compositional fodder in vacuum cleaners, flippers and board games, portrayed to suggest only the tiniest hint of formal properties. A pair of weathered skateboards is silhouetted against black asphalt littered with grass clippings, a close-up of the shimmering coral-colored interior of a mid-century suitcase is contrasted against a blue rhinestone and white linens; each image points to a lifestyle, a narrative of outgrown toys and discarded hobbies. The clean rendering and saturated pigmentation of Bartos' prints prevents these cast-off objects from accruing nostalgia, however, and they are closer in feel to an anthropological project than a rumination on bygone playthings. Photographing at close range from an elevated vantage point, Bartos allows the viewer to connect the dots, supplying only the raw combinations of materials for our story-making. The book is introduced with a story by Raymond Carver.