Kathleen Cullen

The Nostalgia of Now: Photography of Dan Peyton

Project Room Exhibition


June 23 - July 31, 2011


Opening Reception Thursday June 23, 6-8 pm


“But you don’t understand, people lost all their memories.”


-Key West resident after Hurricane Wilma’s tidal surge inundated large areas of the island, destroying homes.


Due to the mass adoption of photography by the public since the early 20th Century our culture has come to rely on concrete, physical, photographic proof of experiences that previously were ephemeral and matters of reminiscence and hearsay. Indeed with security CCTV, camera phones and the emotional states created by the war on terror, willing or not, we are under continual photographic surveillance. But is this evidence of the photographic human world truly our only reality? Are there other ways to experience our place in the passage of time?


Dan Peyton uses early photographic techniques, ambrotype and cyanotype, to explore positions on the passage of time, the formulation of memory, and the preservation of defunct technology. Using the cyanotype formula discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1842 and a camera-less approach, images are created by laying objects, natural, man-made and artist created, on paper exposed to the suns rays. In essence these images are photographs of shadows, a fixing of the light passing over the earths’ surface.

Old wooden cameras are used to make wet-plate photographs on glass using the ambrotype process invented, almost simultaneously­­, by Frederick Scott Archer and Gustave Le Gray in about 1850.  Landscapes and still life studies are heavy with influences of the past due to our preconditioned visual understanding, yet they remain portrayals of today—a representation of the past in real time. “I am creating relics of the present day. Artifacts that challenge our visual understanding by looking at the past and the present at the same time,” explains Peyton.
Recent works, all unique images, include cyanotypes made with cut paper stencils from drawings, and ambrotypes with charred pine artist’s frames that after sealing have the lingering scent of burnt sugar – like a memory.