Wandering the Renwick’s “Wonder”

My experience at the Renwick Gallery was quite enjoyable- thanks in part to the camera I have been so absorbed in the past year. Photography has always been something I’ve been interested in, and within the last year or so I have started to take the hobby quite seriously, carrying my DSLR around to many places. My visit to the Renwick Gallery was the first time I had photographed contemporary art. For me, contemporary art has always been the most interesting to look at, because it is never the same. Every piece is unpredictable. You don’t know what to expect, and you could be looking at something extremely simple and elegant, or something magnificent and complex. You can walk from a room full of notecards, to a room full of tire rubber, to a room full of different patterned bugs. For me, the surprising and mysterious nature of contemporary exhibits is exciting.

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I don’t think taking photography at the exhibit hampered my ability to recall any details. For me, I felt like I was being absorbed into the exhibit more and more every time I snapped a picture. In terms of what was worth photographing, I honestly don’t think photography could do a 3 dimensional exhibit like this justice. However, I was able to photograph some very interesting angles of some of the different figures. For me, one of the more appealing parts of the exhibit was that I could analyze and view things from multiple different angles. Other than a few rooms, most of the exhibit was fully accessible, allowing me to view the figures from different aspects.

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(1.8 ^) Plexus A1 and 1.8 had to have been my favorite figures. They were so soothing to look at, due to the transitioning of colors as time passed on (more for 1.8). Plexus A1 was interesting, as the transition through the color spectrum was so smooth, and it was almost like a tangible rainbow. (Plexus A1 is below)

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As someone who is willing to wait for that perfect shot, I did get a little annoyed at the fact that I could barely get a photo without people in the background. Funny thing is, I’m sure that’s how most people felt. With an exhibit of this nature, I think photography facilitates a mutual understanding amongst all visitors that taking your time to snap the shot you’re trying to get, or having your camera or phone constantly out, is acceptable. Most people visiting the museum are in the same boat as you- they’re all trying to get their ideal shot. This is definitely an exhibit I would love to visit again- and yes, since I have already photographed the exhibit, I would not bring my camera long. I would be interested in seeing if I perceive the exhibit any differently without my camera. As of now, I can only speculate that the exhibit was the same to me with the camera- as this was my first time visiting.

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My research topic is about comparing Civil War photography to illustrations in newspapers, and examining the similarities or differences. After visiting the exhibit, spending a decent amount of time in each room, and holistically analyzing each figure, I think I am going to reevaluate how I analyze the Civil War photos/newspaper illustrations. Instead of looking at the images, and writing down what I see right away, I think it would be more effective to just look at the images for 2-3 minutes each (without writing anything down). The longer I looked at the exhibits, the more I noticed about them- it’s a pretty simple concept. I think the more time I spend pondering the images I have chosen for my research project, the more I will notice, and be able to draw conclusions from them.

The exhibit really did put me into a state of wonder, and the figures were some of the most intricate and interesting designs I had ever seen. I think the gallery is doing exactly what it hoped- putting its many visitors in awe at the wondrous nature of its exhibit.

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One thought on “Wandering the Renwick’s “Wonder””

  1. I really enjoyed looking at your photography in this post. It is clear that you are a talented photographer and impressive writer. I think your plan to examine your images more carefully before writing your paper is a good one and its great that you discovered this after visiting this exhibit.

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