Critical Encounters: The Digital Research of Todd Walker from 1981-1998

Sandra Phillips Gallery

March 7 - April 12, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 6:30 - 8:30 pm - Melanie Walker, daughter of Todd Walker and Associate Professor, CU Boulder, will lecture & present an overview of her father's work

Todd Walker, WIJAN1 (270-6)

(from the press release)

The 1980s were a critical time in the exploration of digital photographic manipulation and Todd Walker (1917 - 1998) was a pioneer in that realm. This exhibit examines a sampling of his groundbreaking experimentation. Critical Encounters has never been exhibited before and presents a rare opportunity for viewing the historical evolution of the digital realm.

Todd Walker: in addition to his life as a leader in the exploration of alternative processes in photography and a prolific artist, Walker served as professor of photography at the University of Arizona, Tucson, the University of Florida, Gainesville, and taught courses through the UCLA extension. Todd Walker's work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France, the Chicago Art Institute and many other significant public institutions. Critical Encounters, curated by Sandy Lane, Assistant Professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver and Melanie Walker, Associate Professor, University of Colorado at Boulder.

Sandra Phillips Gallery
744 Santa Fe Drive
Denver, CO 80204

Tue - Sat: 12:30 - 5:00 PM

Todd Walker Biography

Todd Walker (1917 - 1998) was one of the first photographers to use digital imaging processes to make art. Born in Salt lake City and reared in Los Angeles, Walker established himself as a successful commercial photographer in the 1940s, a career he later gave up to pursue his artistic interests. Starting in the 1960s with alternative processes - non silver-gelatin techniques for making photographs - Walker developed a unique and personal visual language that runs through the last three decades of his work. In 1981 he started using digital processing to extend his photographic process and became proficient at computer programming to create the tools he needed.

Even before his pioneering foray into digital photography, Walker had been dissatisfied with the formal options offered by conventional photographic media. Among the ìalternative processesî he found some, like the Sabattier effect (sometimes called solarization) that accentuated the edges and lines of forms in a photograph. He referred to this as ìthe line drawn by light.î He also developed a keen color language that infuses much of his work but finds its apex in small lithographic artists books made with a succession of techniques including optical, darkroom, digital and small offset press.

In the two and a half decades since Walker set out on his pioneering journey, digital photography has come of age. Technologies for digitizing, editing, and printing appear and vanish from the marketplace in steady succession, defying consumer appetites if not the artistic imagination. Walkerís work not only demonstrates his prescience, but reveals the visually and formally stunning possibilities that existed before the digital became commercialized.

He was a loved teacher and taught for many years at the Art Center College of Design, UCLA extension, University of Florida, Gainesville and the University of Arizona, Tucson. In addition, he was invited to speak about his work at a vast number of colleges and universities around the country. He frequently exhibited his work and conducted workshops in conjunction with the visiting artist lectures.

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