Photographing the Unphotographable

February 5, 2013 | Eugene Reznik

Snapshots, portraits, landscapes — for about 175 years, most photographers have used the camera to depict what we can see. “But another tradition exists,” writes gallerist Jeffrey Fraenkel:

a parallel history in which photographers and other artists have attempted to describe by photographic means that which is not so readily seen: thought, time, ghosts, god, dreams.

Using a variety of methods, from long exposures and multiple exposures to whatever-the-hell it is Paul Graham is doing in that photo above (which looks like a microscopic image of color film grain) photographers have also been depicting that which the eye never sees.

The Unphotographable” at Fraenkel Gallery features work from a roster of blockbuster photographers including Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Sophie Calle, Man Ray, Christian Marclay, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Richard Misrach, Gerhard Richter, Alfred Stieglitz and many others exploring ways over two centuries to depict the invisible or ineffable.

Here’s a video of the installation:

“The Unphotographable,” Various Artist, Jan 3 – Mar 23, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco. (Photo: Fuji Fujicolour Super HR400, 400asa, Beyond Caring, 1984, 2011 by Paul Graham)