Roger Newton: The DIY Lens Guy

One artist that really interested me is Roger Newton. He is a photographer who creates large abstract images and whose determination to create nonrepresentational work has lead him to create his own camera, lenses and film. He originally became interested in photography when he was attending art school in New York during the 1980s. It was during this time he discovered the pinhole camera and was at once drawn to the blurry and unpredictability of the images created. He would eventually go on to make numerous pinhole cameras eventually branching out to create lenses made of mineral oil, corn syrup, water, glycerin, or other refracting liquids. At one point taking a break from his photographic practice in order to research and develop the kind of black and white film he desired (Margarett, 2001). In his artist statement Newton goes to say that, “by designing and fabricating my own lenses I can control the quality of the light collected, the size and shape of the image field, and the colors in the scene. This allows me to work more directly with fundamental problems in the processes of seeing and perception, and ultimately the ontological problems of the thing and or scene depicted” (Foundation for Contemporary Arts, n.d.). He fabricates his photographs by layering up various liquid substances to create a lens. The lens purposely made to “exists out of the normal range of our visual faculties”. To reject standard photographic imaging systems and photography as a medium of representationalism. Instead focusing on the optical experience of looking.

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It is Newtons rejection of photo-representalism and focus on the methods of imaging making that interests me when looking at my own idea for the final project. The reason I say this is because for this project I will be continuing my role as art researcher, and focusing on unearthing photographic practices; removing all subjective interpretations and limiting definitions. Instead focusing on the facts, presently that means understanding photography as the use and manipulation of light to maintain an image. An image which as author and curator Lyle Rexler points out isn’t always based on realism (Rexer, 2013) . With this definition in mind I intend to conduct several experiments ones which like Newton’s will circulate around methods of light manipulation to produce what can be describe for all intensive purposed as undisclosed images. Always keeping in mind my definition of photography and excluding anything from this experiment which would distract or hinder it. A second reason I am interested in Newtons work is that his use of liquids to create lenses has given me another possibility to consider in my own experimentation and manipulation of light for this project. Other methods/ elements I’m looking at include (but not limited to); types of light sources, the chemical composition of types of light and things that give off light, Photographic paper manipulation, reflection/ refraction, filtered light, aperture, shutter speed/ exposure, light wave lengths, energy, Inference of light.



Foundation for Contemporary Arts. (n.d.). Roger Newton. Retrieved from Foundation for   the Contemporary arts web site:

Margarett, L. (2001, June 8). Photography Review; Reinventing the lens for large   abstraction. The New York Times.

Rexer, L. (2013). The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography. New York:   Apature.

Additional Sources

Andrew Mandaliti Final





BBC – How fake images change our memory and behaviour

  By Rose Eveleth





—The article talks about
— How These fake memories don’t just distort how we see our past, but they also affect our current and future behaviour too  
◦In the ways that we feel towards things
—In the article
—There was a study were scientists showed subjects manipulated images of themselves with bugs bunny or on a hot air balloon ride
◦None of those people had ever met Bugs or ridden in a hot air balloon, but seeing images of it made them remember something entirely fabricated.
—like the balloon ride or Bugs Bunny, these fake images can have very real effects on memory
—The article talks about
—Seeing these fake images goes even beyond altering our memory of events. It can actually change our behaviours towards things.
—Why we’re fooled
◦Images are really good at fooling our memories for a number of reasons. A big part of it is because people have a tendency to trust photographs as truth
—Idea for final work
—My intentions
—I want to Photoshop myself out of family photos
◦These photos will give a clear indication of a persons life
–Key stages and events that take place in an average life, lived from the ages of 1 – 20
–I will chose the best 20ish images were my disappearance effects the context of the image the most


—The questions my project brings up
◦What does it mean to take yourself out of a photo (especially family photo album photos) and what are the effect?
–Does this proses in a way mean taking myself out of history
–Do we have a history without photography
–How many things from your past do you remember without thinking of a photo?
—Some answers
—This removal effects and saddens my parents
◦In some way effecting there idea of the past
–Their memories of these events include me, without me the events feel like a piece is missing
–The past I share with my family and friends make up who I am today, but if I take myself out of these events than what makes up who I am
—Some answers
—The fact that I’m taking myself out of these images says something
◦I am excluding myself from these events which intern effect the relationships I have with the individuals in them
—Photos are used to seal a moment in time, and intrusted with a level of truth
◦We take pictures to remember events, but also to prove that the event occurred.
◦ when the images of the past are altered our ideas of the past are altered.
–What becomes truth can change
—I plan to…
—Display these in a photo album that had one (original sized) photo per page
◦Viewers are encouraged to flip through it and see 20 odd images were there seemingly is a person missing in all of them
–The photos will, more than less, be a chronological tail of my life