Worlds Collide in New Photo Exhibit

Category: arts 338

Inspired by the relationship between our digital and analog worlds, Sarah Sarty’s new series Delving Deep blends contemporary technology with traditional photographic techniques to create a unique interactive exhibition.

Matt Carter
Visitors to Delving Deep can use their mobile devices to view positive images from Sarty’s negative displays. Onsite instruction will be provided.

As digital advances in photography continue to shape this 170-some year old art form at a rapid rate, a working knowledge of darkrooms, negatives and what some may call proper technique are becoming less and less important. With the ease of today’s point-click-delete approach to capturing images, not to mention the endless built-in filters and photo editing tools that come standard on today’s mobile devices, the merits of traditional photography and their place in the digital world continue to spark endless debate. To many, film photography is now seen as a quirky and time consuming approach to taking pictures, and one reserved for purists and the photographic elite. To others, the art form’s origins are not weighed on a scale of better or worse, but are instead seen as the foundation upon which all of the current advances have been built. It’s a simple case of compliment over argument. One informs the other. 

Photographer Sarah Sarty’s new exhibition Delving Deep examines the relationship between the analog and digital worlds by presenting a curated selection of film-based photography that visitors can then examine through their mobile devices, an action that replicates one aspect of traditional darkroom work.

Delving Deep encourages visitors to use their mobile phones as a means of revealing images displayed in their traditional form – as negatives. Sarty came upon the idea for this unique presentation while taking a class in darkroom technique. 

“We were talking about making contact prints and someone in the class said he doesn’t even bother with that anymore because our phones can produce the invert for us,” said Sarty. “Learning this technique got me thinking how I could use it as a teaching tool. It’s showing us one way how our digital world is informed by the analog world.

“The act of using your phone to properly invert the image is my attempt at drawing a connection between contemporary digital photography and traditional forms where negatives are involved.”

Delving Deep is as much a standalone exhibit of photography as it is a passage into another world where understanding and appreciating this relationship helps bring a deeper meaning to the work and the art of photography in general. 

“Our current digital way of taking photographs is informed by the practice’s analog origins,” said Sarty. “Even in Photoshop, there is a dodge and burn tool and that’s a process that’s used in producing images from negatives.”

Sarty’s exhibition, which opens March 5 at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre, features a series of paired images – a human subject and a landscape – each with a unique relationship to one another. 

“The idea is that all the people who are featured in each light box, their stories are encompassed in the landscape,” said Sarty.

One image pairing features a fifth generation Grand Manan fisherman smiling on his boat, together with an image of the ocean where he makes his living. 

Much like the idea to involve mobile phones in visitor experience, Sarty’s idea to pair photos together came after she had already captured this collection of images. 

“I had already done all the shooting for this project and was thinking about how I was going to make an interesting exhibition of it all, instead of just printing images. I had developed a series of negatives at home and had them hanging in a window so I could see what I had. Looking at these small images with my backyard in the background, that’s where the idea came from.”

This exhibition will also include a variety of Sarty’s recent film photography including a series of landscape photographs taken in various contrasting environments throughout the province. 

Delving Deep will be on display in the Charlotte Glencross Gallery until April 3.


Below is a pair of images from Sarah Sarty’s exhibition Delving Deep. By adjusting the settings on your mobile device you’ll be able to get a better understanding of the visitor experience and the relationship involved in this exhibition.

  1. Examine the image. Think about the relationship of the two subjects and how these two images might work together.
  2. Adjust your settings:
    1. iPhone – settings, accessibility, display & text size, classic invert
    2. Samsung – settings, accessibility, vision, negative colours
  3. Repeat step #1
  4. Go see this show in person! 


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