PDN Photo of the Day

A Hybrid Tintype Bestiary

Viktor Koen’s show “Bestiary: Bizarre Myths & Chimerical Fancies” takes a digital-analogue hybrid approach to making images, an appropriately piecemeal method for creating the dark human-animal creatures depicted in his tintypes, which are on view at United Photo Industries in Brooklyn until January 7. Koen makes digital assemblages using elements from the visual archives of the US Library of Congress. The images are then used to make tintypes, a form that emphasizes the source material’s connection to early nineteenth century photography. There are men with the heads of bulls or the horns of rams, women whose bodies merge with skeletons and wings, and a spooky person in a frilled collar and gas mask. Writes Koen in a statement about the work, “Drawing from the vast pictorial collection of the US Library of Congress, these characters possess the haunting qualities of early photography, when subjects were not camera-savvy and their awe for technology was etched in their expression as, to a certain degree, their souls were captured by the lens. Their photos became psychological portraits way before my digital intervention made them supernatural. This deformed pantheon combines widely known mythical protagonists with more obscure characters from the depths of ancient Greek sources.”

The gallery will hold a reception for the show on December 1 as part of DUMBO’s 1st Thursday Gallery Walk; on January 7, the gallery will host a reading in connection with the show.

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