Friday, September 4

Contact sheets: where the magic and chaos of photographs comes alive

Stuart Franklin’s contact sheet from Tiananmen Square, 1989, containing the famous “tank man shot”.
"Henri Cartier-Bresson, co-founder of the famed Magnum agency, once likened the contact sheet to the analyst’s couch. 'It’s all there: what surprises us is what we catch, what we miss, what disappears.' Today, the contact sheet has all but disappeared as digital technology has rendered the analogue camera a thing of the past, beloved only of purists and a coterie of young obsessives who fetishise film and the alchemy of the darkroom. In 2011, the publication of the photobook Magnum Contact Sheets seemed like an epitaph on the whole elaborate, hands-on process of pre-digital photography. Four years on, a new exhibition, which opens at FOAM Amsterdam on 11 September, is framed as 'a tribute to analogue technique' – further evidence that what was once taken for granted is now seen as almost absurdly old-fashioned. ..."