Low-Grade Brilliance

Most of our smartphones contain digital cameras that rival the best that money could buy less than a decade ago. We often pay hundreds of dollars for these devices. And what do we do with them? Filter our 8-megapixel masterpieces through apps such as Hipstamatic and Instagram, to lend that elusive “shitty camera” sheen of yesteryear’s cheap point-and-click models. It makes a persuasive case for Devo’s grand theory of devolution — as a race, we’re going backward. But whether the trend toward faux-distressed photos with blown-out colors is mindless fun or the worst kind of kitsch, the results definitely lack the authentic charm of photos taken with a real, bottom-shelf, analog camera. Said cameras are becoming harder to find, but RayKo gallery director Ann Jastrab must have a secret stash, which she dispatched for “the International Juried Plastic Camera Show,” an exhibition of “the best images from the worst cameras.” From a slew of entries, RayKo curated 100 photos taken by professionals such as Robert Holmgren, proving that a talented photographer can capture an indelible image using any lens, and that no sophisticated image-processing algorithm can match the warm, serendipitous imperfection of analog.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Jan. 18. Continues through March 6, 2012

 
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