by Nina Hufman
“Photography as Material,” a photography exhibit featuring the work of Julia Bradshaw, is now open at Cal Poly Humboldt’s Reese Bullen Gallery. The exhibit will be featured in the gallery until March 26. Gallery hours are on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday and Friday from 1 to 6 p.m.
Bradshaw’s work involves taking high resolution photos and then processing them through traditional darkroom and editing techniques as well as computer photo editing.
“I’ve never seen anything high resolution like that, it’s almost an illusion,” said Isabela Acosta, a Cal Poly Humboldt art history major. “I want to touch it because it looks like it’s coming at you.”
The exhibition features two of Bradshaw’s bodies of work, “Stacks and Shapes” and “Survey.” “Stacks and Shapes” features manipulated images of paperback books. Photographs of books are arranged to create geometrical forms, some of which resemble landscapes. “Survey” includes images of concrete that resemble scientific photographs of the moon.
“All of those are concrete, that’s just concrete, but she’s making it look like images of the moon,” Acosta said. “She does that through different processes of developing films and taking things at a certain angle.”
On her page on the Cal Poly Humboldt Department of Art website, Bradshaw says that the pieces included in “Survey” were inspired by scientific diagrams and notes. The photos were taken using a cardboard box and were edited using knives, inks, dyes, and other techniques.
“The simplicity of the materials is a subtle poke at the vast gap between investment in science and investment in art,” Bradshaw wrote. “By pointing my camera at the most abundant of materials, I aim to empower imagination in conjunction with science.”
Former Cal Poly Humboldt student and current faculty member at the Cultural Resources Facility in the anthropology department, Zedekiah Minkin, was impressed by Bradshaw’s moon-esque photos.
“Compared to the real scientific images, it looks like it could be straight out of NASA,” Minkin said.
Religious studies and art history major Cass Jensen also commented on the realism depicted in the photos. They also think that, by comparing concrete and the moon, Bradshaw is commenting on recurring patterns and themes throughout the universe.
“I really like the collage work because it does look exactly like some sort of scientific model that you would see come from NASA,” Jensen said. “It helps elaborate how certain things can be very similar but very different all at the same time. It’s like how a lot of things that may look really far away and intangible are just, like, everywhere.”
Jensen is a collage artist as well. They are inspired by how concisely Bradshaw is able to convey her message through her artwork.
“I like the simplicity of it, it still makes a point without being too much,” Jensen said. “It’s not as complicated and overwhelming as sometimes my pieces come out to be.”
Overall, the most striking quality of Bradshaw’s work is the illusion that she creates. The images are created to allow the viewer to see beyond just the materials used in each piece. The pieces do not necessarily resemble the materials that they are made of.
“I get a raw sense,” Acosta said. “She’s just doing things from a different perspective.”