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

Tinder & Art (Research)

If you thought Tinder was just for hooking up, you’re wrong. Many artists have been using Tinder in a very satirical way.

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Frances Waite

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Another artist I’ve investigated is Richard Renaldi. Renaldo is famous for his photographic work depicting strangers in very intimate poses.

-50 Renaldi01172.AaronAva2014OH-3

Moving Photography

Hey everyone!

Tomorrow I will be discussing moving photography. I started by looking at the movement studies of Eadweard Muybridge.


I have been looking into the relatively short history of animated GIFs.

And I have also found more contemporary people working in moving photography like Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg‘s Cinemagraphs.


A few Cinemagraphsa few more… and some more.

This idea initially sprung from an interest in making images that need to be displayed on screen rather than displayed as physical prints. I am interested in depicting the simple beauty in every day actions like turing the pages of a book or using a can opener.

Political Photography

Hey guys. Tomorrow I will be talking to you about political photography and my goal to create cohesive views of different political events.For those of you that were at the in progress crit for assignment 3 you will already have an idea of what to expect in my final. In my talk I will focus on Thomas Ruff’s book series JPEG (Anna has mentioned him a couple times) as well as listing several political events as well as photographers I am looking at including in my series. Here are a few resources I have been looking at and already started to use:

-Magnum Photos

-New York Times Lens Blog


In addition, I have been doing some historical research into each event, as to depict them properly and not just focus on what is visual appealing. I would be happy to post any articles I have been reading so far if anyone is interested.

expanding the definition [of avant garde]

so i jumped and i have now landed here. in this world of food art. i am interested in the idea of using photography as documentation and continuing with this challenge of transcending the visual. seriously though, its bugging mee!  so, essentially i want to make visual art that requires more than our eyes to understand it and requires more than looking to really SEE it.

the beginning. my inspiration– artist jennifer rubell. see her here.

in this episode of the avant garde diaries, performance/installation/food based artist Jennifer Rubell talks about expanding the definition of avant garde.

her work can be seen by following the blue-letter-link bee-low.

what came before..

gordon matta-clark’s Food (1972),

as told by, “This film documents the legendary SoHo restaurant and artists’ cooperative Food, which opened in 1971. Owned and operated by Caroline Goodden, Food was designed and built largely by Matta-Clark, who also organized art events and performances there. As a social space, meeting ground and ongoing art project for the emergent downtown artists’ community, Food was a landmark that still resonates in the history and mythology of SoHo in the 1970s.

Rirkrit Tiravanija, and his exhibition entitled Untitled (Free) (video below).  In this performance and interactive exhibition Tiravanija “…invites the visitor to interact with contemporary art in a more sociable way, and blurs the distance between artist and viewer. You aren’t looking at the art, but are part of itand are, in fact, making the art as you eat curry and talk with friends or new acquaintances.” (as posted by rebecca stokes for momas inside/out blog)

In one more example of these gatherings centered around food and muddy-ing the line between entertaining and performance , artists Anne Apparu and Agathe Snow continue to hold dinner parties, which they call chop shop, that have a conceptual story connected to the food.