Rita Leistner will give a second artist talk on the final night of her exhibition. Ever interested in process, Rita will tell the story of the exhibition through the journey of what took her from photographing the war in Afghanistan on a smartphone, to her collaboration with Toronto master printer Bob Carnie.
In 2011, Rita Leistner embedded with U.S. Marines in Afghanistan as a team member of the experimental social media initiative Basetrack. What resulted is her book, Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afghanistan, which Leistner wrote as a reaction to the clash of technologies playing out in the theatre of war and beyond. In this exhibition, which is an extension of the book, Leistner teams up with master printer Bob Carnie to present a key concept of the book: that the retro apps in smartphones are a symptom of our yearning for historical permanence and human connection in an increasingly digitized, remote-controlled world. Carnie takes the ephemeral digital photographs Leistner shot on an iPhone and recreates them in the most permanent color photographic printing process known: palladium with applied pigments, a time-honored technique invented in the 19th century. Together, Carnie and Leistner re-present the relationship between contemporary smartphone photographs and traditional printing. The former use algorithms to create faux antiquing and retro effects. The latter, painterly and unique, is the genuine article, which its algorithmic descendants, longing for a more tangible world, nostalgically invoke. The 30 palladium prints on display are accompanied by supporting texts including a series of “didactic panels” illustrating the process from smartphone to palladium.