Intersection II:  Public Intimacy

Study of gesture and intimacy in public. Greenville, SC. Video at 25% normal speed with no sound.  This is the video counterpart to a series of digital narrative images I’ve been making to explore nuances of gesture and interaction on the street.

Pedestrian Micro Gestures, Greenville, SC. This is the video counterpart to a series of digital narrative images I’ve been working on downtown, exploring nuances of gesture and interaction on the street.

My latest tintype portrait work is featured with the work of three other artists in “New Faces 2016” at the Upstairs Artspace Gallery in Tryon, NC.  The exhibition opened on March 12, 2016 and runs through April 22nd.


At the Opening of New Faces 2016.  Photo Credit:  Anthony Milian


At the Opening of New Faces 2016.  Photo Credit:  Anthony Milian


                                                           Buddha Duchamp Beuys 1989

Buddha Duchamp Beuys 1989 is one of the variations of Nam June Paik’s iconic installation TV Buddha.  The former was shown in a Paik retrospective at the Kunst Palast Museum in Dusseldorf in 2010.  Paik created TV Buddha in 1974 at the end of the first generation of television culture.  It featured a statue of the contemplative Buddha sitting before a small television behind which was a closed circuit camera recording his image.

TVBuddha - 1974

                                                                          TV Buddha – 1974

Paik, in one of his variations on this theme, took the place of Buddha, sitting before the television and camera.  I thought of this in relation to television in culture, and it struck me that hours of passive reception of information and frequently violent entertainment makes TV Buddhas of many people, but in a way that is harmful to our well-being.  The passive reception of information cannot achieve any transcendence, and serves to separate us from one another.  This is a point Allan Watts made in his talk, “What is Wrong with Our Culture.”

TV Buddha Variation

You see mile after mile of darkened houses with that little electronic screen flickering in the room, everybody isolated, watching this thing; and, thus, in no real communion with each other at all. And this isolation of people into a private world of their own is really the creation of a mindless crowd.



Michael Wolf – From “A Series of Unfortunate Events”

Michael Wolf – From “A Series of Unfortunate Events”

Google Street View is a frequently updated archive of location images. Contemporary artists have begun to incorporate those images into their work, resulting in gallery and museum exhibitions and sales of prints.  This practice has also generated controversy as to whether the images actually belong to the individuals using them.  It is a question of the authenticity of the image – a debate that has raged in various forms since the early history of the medium.

From Vimeo:

In 2011, German photographer Michael Wolf was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Contemporary Issues category of the World Press Photo Awards. Wolf’s award became highly controversial among other photojournalists, since the winning work was deliberately appropriated from images found via Google Street View, which Wolf then cropped and re-photographed on his computer monitor.

Wolf argues that the very act of appropriating specific sections of images within a vast data stream and photographing them make the images uniquely his.  His intelligence, editorial skill, and intuition bring attention to facets of the world that would otherwise go unnoticed and remain lost in the Google Street View image archive.

Another photographer using Google Street view is Doug Rickard. His recent appropriated images show areas of the United States where “unemployment is high and educational opportunities are few.”  Taking a virtual tour of those areas, Rickard isolated and digitally captured particular scenes that commented on “poverty and racial inequality.” The resulting series of images was published in a book entitled A New American Picture and exhibited in New Photography 2011 at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Doug Rickard from “Surveying the Terrain”

Doug Rickard from “Surveying the Terrain”

Related Reading

I will be giving a visiting artist talk at Furman University on June 2nd. The Olli Program for retired professionals has invited me to discuss 19th century photography and to present my wet plate collodion work to a class called “Reflections on Photography.” The class is held in the Herring Center for Continuing Education.  If the weather is nice, I’d like to do a demonstration of the process at the historic Cherrydale house on campus.

Cherrrydale House, Furman University

Cherrydale Alumni House (c. 1857-1860), Furman University

As I’ve worked in the wet plate collodion process, I’ve accumulated many images that show extreme effects of chemical reactions and accidents of the process.  Sometimes colder temperatures caused the developer not to flow properly.  In other instances, the collodion was too old and formed on the plate in a mottled way as it was poured.  Then there were also cases of silver nitrate flowing across the plate and leaving traces of movement while the plate was in the camera holder.  Finally, there were some plates that had contaminants on their surfaces — specks of dust, and such.  These are among my favorites.

I’m very pleased to have had a tintype, “Lady of the Wilderness,” accepted into the Wet Plate Collodion Juried Show at the University of Northern Colorado.  This show is juried by wet plate artist Quinn Jacobson, an educator in the wet plate process who has exhibited and taught workshops internationally.   The show opens on January 20th in the Mariani Gallery and will be on view through March 4th 2015.

Portrait of Vanessa - Tintype by Bryan Hiott

Lady of the Wilderness – Tintype by Bryan Hiott

Portrait of Manuel - Tintype

Tintype portrait of artist Manuel Schmettau that I made on his visit to my studio with Ann Stoddard (a colleague from the Wofford College fine arts faculty). Whole plate (6.5″ x 8.5″), 19th century wet plate collodion.


Portrait of Isobelle

Whole plate tintype (6.5″ x 8.5″).  19th century wet plate collodion process.  7 sec. exposure under 12 6500K UV tubes.  I made this portrait in my studio at Taylors Mill.

Tintype of Robert L. Rice by Bryan Hiott

This is my father-in-law, Robert L. Rice.  He is 96 years old and was at the studio this week, along one of his sisters and his bother to have tintypes made.  It was such a joy to make images of them together, but I especially liked this individual portrait of him. He is old school.  He never wears anything but long pants and a long sleeve button down shirt with suspenders, regardless of how hot the weather is, and he will not leave the house without his trademark hat.   To put things in perspective, when my father-in-law was born in February 1918, World War I had not ended, and the Wright brothers had only pioneered flight 15 years before.  Mr. Rice has seen a lot of change in the world.

Tintype Portrait - Bryan Hiott Studio

Tintype Portrait – Bryan Hiott Studio

Tintype Portrait of a Young Girl – one of the art lovers from the neighborhood near Taylors Mill, and a regular visitor to my studio. 19th century wet plate collodion process.  10 sec. exposure under 12 6500K UV tubes.  Image taken with an original 1872 brass barrel Ross portrait lens (f/4).

Whole Plate Tintype (2014) by Bryan Hiott

Whole Plate Tintype (2014) by Bryan Hiott

This is a tintype portrait of three brothers and their sister, who live in the neighborhood near my studio at Taylors Mill in South Carolina.  Since opening my studio there in 2012, I’ve gotten to know these great kids, who are very interested in my wet plate collodion process. They’re regular visitors on the First Friday art crawl and also stop by to talk whenever they see me working.  I’d wanted to make a portrait of them for some time, and I got my chance this week.  This image also appears in the 2014  World Wet Plate Collodion Day gallery – hosted by Quinn Jacobson.  That gallery honors  Frederick Scott Archer, who invented the collodion process in 1851.  Every year on his birthday, collodion photographers around the world make images to celebrate.

Rev. Keith Turbeville

Rev. Keith Turbeville

Tintype portrait of Rev. Keith Turbeville taken recently in my studio at Taylors Mill.  Keith is an Episcopal priest, who just completed his tenure as an associate minister at Christ Church Episcopal in Greenville, SC.  He and his family are  moving to Texas, and he will become rector of a new church, Holy Trinity by the Lake in Rockwall (near Dallas).

This image was made using the 19th century wet plate collodion process, which was invented in 1851 and replaced Daguerreotypes as the most popular means of studio photography.  Wet plate collodion was the primary means of making photographs through the 1880s.  For this tintype, I used a reproduction 19th century wooden box camera with bellows and an original brass barrel Ross lens made in London in 1872.  The exposure time was 4 seconds under two arrays of 6500K UV lights.

Maliasmark Rust and Ruin Reborn

In a recent post on Meliasmark Rust and Ruin Reborn, my studio at Taylors Mill was listed as one of the spots to visit during the upcoming First Friday arts evening in Greenville (May 3rd).  Click the link above for the text of the full blog post.

Portrait of Caren Lasseter

Tintype of Caren Lasseter made last weekend outside my studio in Taylors, SC.  This is a whole plate (6.5″ x 8.5″) shot with an 1872 Ross portrait lens.  Exposure 7 sec. during late afternoon.   19th Century wet plate collodion process.

Tintype Photogram

Tintype Photogram

Tintype photogram: half-plate image of a leaf found outside the studio. Contact printed in the darkroom. This was an improv exercise. I had taken my camera down, and then realized I still had a plate in the silver nitrate bath. So this is how I solved the camera issue.  It took less time to prepare and print the photogram that it would have taken to reassemble the camera for a still life shot.




Isabella Sophie Gerber

Whole plate ambrotype  (6.5″ x 8.5″) of Isabella Sophie Gerber shot in my studio recently under UV light.  An ambrotype is a slightly underexposed image made on a glass plate using the wet plate collodion photographic process.  It appears as a negative until placed against a dark background, which reverses the tones, rendering the image as a positive.

This ambrotype was shot using two six-tube arrays of UV lights.  Each array contained five 48″ 6500K fluorescent tubes + one 48″ blacklight.  I used a 19th century reproduction tailboard camera with an original 1872 brass barrel Ross portrait lens (f/4) made in London.  Exposure time was 10 seconds.