Photos Are Dead-Long Live Photography

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Read closely, the announcement for the McDonough Museum of Art exhibition, Modeling the Photographic: The End(s) of Photography, is perhaps a bit morbid. The double entendre in the show's title may indeed refer to a looming expiry date for the medium of photography, but moreover, the organizers call the digital image 'photography's doppelganger,' implying that the former is but a ghost-like presence haunting photography, in its last throes of life. In reality, new technologies have always impacted visual representation--photographic or otherwise--and even more than death, embodiment, or ephemerality, this timely exhibition is about that ongoing entanglement. This is a photo show in which 'few, if any of the artists included actually make photographs in the traditional sense of camera and darkroom, [though] all use photography as their reference.' The aim is to suss out the ongoing influence that photography's tools, aesthetics, and models of spectatorship have on the new media that, in turn, impact photography. If this sounds like a tautology, then you're reading closely. Like the show's circuitous premise, the works themselves--by James Welling, Barbara Probst, Fabian Marcaccio, Joseph Nechvatal, Curtis Mitchell, Matthew Buckingham, and Penny Umbrico, and others--evade claims to 'truth' or other benchmarks of clarity, to dive headfirst into the murky phantasmagoria of contemporary practice. Curated by Saul Ostrow, the show will be open February 23-March 23, at this Youngstown State University (Ohio) museum. - Elizabeth Johnston