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Ansel Adams said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” The saying has the status of scripture among photographers ranging from those who are just beginning to take the medium seriously to long-career pros. The technical and aesthetic learning curves are steep, but serious photographers seem to welcome the struggle as the cost of being in charge. For many artist-photographers, it is the physicality of manipulating materials, fabricating solutions, and the surprises that come from that process, that inspire and reward the work. “Tuŝis” means “touched” in Esperanto and the Tuŝis II project continues to explore and celebrate fine art photography that clearly shows the artist’s fingerprints.
Since its earliest days in the 19th century, photography has been all about experimentation and, across the decades, the work of tinkerers, technicians, printmakers, and programmers has continued. While the science of photography has continued to bring more and more “realism” to pictures, it has also provided inventive artist-photographers with supremely sophisticated tools to create highly-personal, deeply-affecting, and decidedly “unreal” works of art. In a recent recurrence of interest in old-school equipment and techniques, artists are using antique, toy, and home-made cameras with analog materials to create decidedly contemporary artworks. Whether the artists in Tuŝis II use the latest digital tools or remodel methods from 150 years ago, each of the works included here is clearly the product of one person’s deep understanding of materials, energetic creative imagination, and hands that combine the elements to entertain, amaze, and teach.