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Technique Photo Gallery

Not Just the Great Dome or 77 Mass. Ave.

Gabor Csanyi

I have to admit, I came to see the Technique photo exhibition at the Wiesner Student Art Gallery with a number of preconceptions. After seeing five yearbooks published during my time at MIT and browsing through several others, I thought, “Oh dear, not another perfectly executed picture of the Great Dome or 77 Mass. Ave.” I was pleasantly surprised. There is only one dome, and it is small and purple.

Technique has done well to step outside their usual bread and butter, and showcase works that stand on their own, not just when taken in the context of MIT. They have done that while also indicating what they are really good at: reminding people of their years at the ’Tute -- I remember that snowstorm; I’ve been on the roof and seen that magical Boston sky just after sunset.

If you decide to come to the second floor Gallery at the Student Center, you should have (at least) one objective: to see the photograph entitled “Gone” by Amanda Herrero. The remains of a wooden structure stand out from the sea, dark logs against the white featureless sky. They are left there to decay, to fight their own fight with the inevitable laws of nature. Was it a pier or something else? It doesn’t matter now; its days are numbered. The innocent looking caption rounds out this picture: “... I don’t think it’s there anymore....” No matter how good anyone thinks he or she is, this picture belongs to Amanda, because the subject is gone. With stills and landscapes, that can result in great treasure.

Ironically, it is only here that the meticulous craftsmanship that Technique cultivates in their darkroom work fails. Next to other perfectly printed photographs, here I would have evened out the dark and light tones on the logs, compensating for the sunlit bright spots on their tops. It would have made an even stronger contrast between the foreground and the distant, fleeting seascape.

But moving on. Any future Technique editor would be well advised to post a very large sign in their 4th floor suite: “No More Staircases.” Or “Exit” signs, for that matter. It’s been done to death, and while it may be possible to say something new about staircases or simple signs, it is not done here.

As I am typing this, sitting on the bench in the Gallery, I keep having to get up, and go back to the panels just to remind me of the photos that are out of my view. This is not good. I should not continue to forget the images on the timescale of a few minutes. Or should I? There seems to be one problem with a lot of these pictures: they refuse to stick in my mind. There is a mild feeling of ordinaryness, photographically speaking.

Will they stick to your mind? It is worth finding out.