Dan Gemkow | Chicago, IL, United States

Short bio:
Dan Gemkow is an artist and Instructor of Photography. He is originally from New Hampshire and grew up in the suburban Chicago area. He received a Master’s degree in Fine Arts in 2010 from the University of Missouri. Since completion of his MFA, Gemkow taught both traditional darkroom and digital photography. Currently, he is traveling across Australia to complete his project, In Transit. Gemkow has participated in exhibitions at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado, the Kaunas Photo Festival in Kaunas, Lithuania, the PH21 Gallery in Budapest, Hungary, the Masur Museum of Art in Louisiana, Gallerie Voltaire in Melbourne, Australia, the Foundry Art Center in St. Charles, Missouri, the Kevin Milligan Gallery in the Bay Area of California, the Rogue Space Chelsea in New York City, the Black Box Gallery in Oregon, the PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont, the Midwest Center for Photography in Kansas, the Tubac Center for the Arts in Arizona, several galleries around the Midwest and Gallery MM in Yokohama, Japan.

Why do you photograph on film?
I photograph on film because it demands much more time to contemplate the image and then to finally make an exposure. The process forces me to greatly consider and then reconsider the composition and subject matter. Also, I only take one shot. I love that aspect of shooting film. It is expensive and potentially finite, so I do not want to be wasteful. Another thing I really love about film is that it is not instantaneous. You have to wait until it is developed to see the image. Often something occurred during the exposure I did expect and I am unable to see until I finally develop the negative. This happens particularly often when making long exposures as I encountered on several occasions while making my series Electronic Billboards. Finally, I like that film provides a tangible and archival object. Although a digital image can be stored on several different hard drives, I appreciate being able to hold the negative in my hand and see it as a long lasting artifact.

What is your work about?
My work addresses the relationship between the built environment and the human experience. The landscape that we construct has a strong influence on our lives. It is where we sleep, eat, work, travel and ultimately reflects what we value as a culture. What we see impacts our desires and encourages a certain standard of living. My work is an exploration of the different ways in which the reality of our cultural values becomes evident within the constructed landscape. The digital age has welcomed many technological achievements. Among the most outstanding is the connection of the world in an instant and a putting a palm sized computer in the hands of the global population. However, this same technology can also be used as a distraction by mass marketers to offer new products. My series Electronic Billboards was inspired to remove the inundation of these flashing roadway distractions from the interstate corridor between Kansas and Missouri.