The Power of Photography

1-ATG Header _ Power of Photography

 Where: The Annenberg Space for Photography

Location: 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Century City

Every time I step into the courtyard of the Annenberg Space for Photography, I look up at these two massive buildings that form a cocoon around me and somehow forget the hustle and bustle of Santa Monica Boulevard just beyond. This is quite ironic given that this same courtyard is shared with other prominent businesses, namely Creative Artists Agency, likely making it quite the opposite of experiences Monday through Friday as talent agents wheel and deal on their next big project. However, on the weekends, most of the activity is to your far right at what has become one of my favorite (and free!) ways to spend a weekend afternoon, checking out the latest photography exhibition at “The Space.”

ATG - Annenberg Exterior

{Exterior, The Annenberg Space for Photography.}

I’ve seen a handful of exhibitions at The Annenberg Space for Photography over the last 3 years since discovering this gem among the massive buildings, ranging in visual commentary, genre, and tone. Themes span from topics such as the social connotations on the culture of beauty, to those who helped shape the evolution of rock & roll music, to capturing the risk and devastation of war photography. Without fail, I find each exhibition to be more engaging than the last.

1-atg1

{A few of the stills shared outside the galleries in the courtyard.}

Currently on display at “The Space” is a visual tribute to National Geographic Magazine’s 125th anniversary, known for publishing some the most recognizable and iconic images in history, aptly titled “The Power of Photography.” The Annenberg transforms nearly every single ounce of wall space into a mosaic, sharing over 400 photographs from Nat Geo’s famed collection. With nearly 11.5 million photographs in their archive, narrowing down the selection to put on display would be a challenge for anyone. I applaud how they chose to overcome such a challenge. Alongside the overwhelming print mosaic gracing its walls, the exhibition is expressively curated with 30 large, high-definition, LED screens installed into the walls – showcasing 501 images with stunning clarity, looping every 50 seconds or so.

What is quite magnificent about “The Power of Photography” exhibition is that because the screens are in a constant state of flow, looping through hundreds of images, you could walk the entire length of the show and start fresh or come again on another day – where you are guaranteed a new experience. This sounds pretty amazing in theory, and it is! Unfortunately, I also found it hard to navigate because of this.

This where my one criticism lies with digital exhibitions, particularly, in small spaces. Unlike print stills that invite you to look at the work and move on, multiple graphics in one place is quite the opposite. When the main attraction is on a large screen slowly sifting through images, it can only help but draw crowds of people to stand in front of each screen for long periods of time, creating clusters of people around you that disrupt your interaction with the works of art. If you’ve ever been to the Annenberg, it’s not the biggest of galleries. In fact, this is a complaint that I often have visiting here. It hasn’t deflected me from attending their amazing exhibitions because it still is one of the best curated galleries in town, but is a problem when visiting The Space on the weekends.

As you maneuver though the crowds in an attempt to absorb the photographs, what ultimately redeems itself, despite the cramped experience, is the work of art. You’re instantly struck by the the emotion in many of the images published in National Geographic Magazine throughout the years. I was awed as I took in vast architectural structures, the most eclectic of animals, portraits of people from all over the world, images capturing the conflict in humanity, while highlighting its undeniable beauty. I’ve been inspired to look into getting a National Geographic subscription to keep that awe with me long after the exhibition closes next month.

Unfortunately, due to copyright, photography is not allowed inside “The Space,” but the Huffington Post wrote a great article last fall sharing 15 of the highlights on display.

It’s quite amazing if you think about it. Photography, one of the oldest of visual mediums and artistic expressions, seems to be growing with age. Nearly everyone has a camera on their phone today. Instagram (a personal favorite on mine) now has over 150 million active users. And the blogoshpere continues to share stories using images to enhance their words. The point is that “The Power of Photography” is proving itself to be timeless.

The exhibition runs until Sunday, April 27th.

1-atg

Advertisements