New AP/RC Artist: Joseph Labate

Joseph Labate, currently professor of photography, served as chair of the University of Arizona photography area from 1996-2014. His role at that University coincided with the increased availability of digital cameras and his dogged pursuits in digital photography. Labate got rid of his dark room in the late 1990s and his digital adventures since then have been varied, intense, unrelenting, and wide-ranging.

Late in 2017 Labate donated over 160 images, ranging from 2005 to the present, to the AP/RC to begin an archive of his work. When Labate switched to digital, he sought to explore the medium’s intrinsic possibilities and not make digital images that attempted to reconstruct the feel of darkroom, film-based photographs. Even a cursory review of the images below confirms the path he chose. In the future, Labate’s collection will grow with more digital as well as darkroom (or analog) work from earlier years.

On the artist’s web site, which has a wide range of his images beginning in the late 1990s, Labate notes that, “I learned and practiced photography in the era before the introduction of photographic digital technology. I exposed film in a camera and then proceeded to my darkroom to develop the film and make prints… I immersed myself in that world and as an artist, was challenged to explore its potential. Then along came PhotoShop. In the late 1990’s, after long and serious deliberation, I closed down my darkroom and sold my darkroom equipment. I replaced the darkroom with a computer, software, inkjet printer, and various other new digital wonders and set off to explore their impact on my practice of photography. I am fortunate to have a history with chemical darkroom photography and now have available to me this new digital technology. I have a foot in both worlds. I am most interested in that converging space between the traditional definition of photography and the imagery of the newly emerging digital arts. I am not trying to replicate traditional photography with the now available digital tools but yet am trying to maintain some connection to it.”

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