Myra Greene’s Character Recognition explores issues of racial stereotyping through a fragmentary study of what she calls her own “ethnic features." Updating the 19th-century photographic process called wet collodion, Greene bridges the gap between historical and modern trauma, from ethnographic studies and colonial slavery to racial profiling and contemporary ethnic conflict (often marked by mutilation and disfigurement). To create the unique ambrotypes, Greene coats glass plates with sensitized collodion and places them, while still wet, into the camera. After exposure, the plate is immediately developed. The resulting negative appears as a positive image against the black glass. Here, the telltale signs of the process — drips, pools, and stains — give the works the appearance of photographic relics. Myra Greene (American, b. 1975), no. 24 from the series Character Recognition; unique ambrotype on black glass, 2006–7. NYPL, Wallach Division, Photography Collection

 
 
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Although this photograph and the one that follows are both developed like traditional silver prints from black-and-white film, Denny Moers refers to them as monoprints because he submits them to a handcrafted technique that renders each one unique. Before the prints are fixed, Moers exposes them to incandescent light, thereby altering their tonality, then stops the process by painting chosen areas of the print with fixer; he repeats the process until he deems the fogging complete, after which he sometimes adds further tone with gold chloride, selenium, sulfide, or other metal toners. Alternatively, he sometimes removes tonality through selective bleaching. The results are modern relics — simultaneously figurative and abstract, old and new — made by manipulating a once common chemical process that is now increasingly rare. Denny Moers (American, b. 1953), Hospital Windows, Spain; gelatin silver print, 1979. NYPL, Wallach Division, Photography Collection

 
 
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Denny Moers (American, b. 1953), Tapestry and Wall #1; gelatin silver print, 1980. NYPL, Wallach Division, Photography Collection

 
 
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Alison Rossiter (Canadian, b. 1953), “Eastman Kodak Canada Vitava Athena C, expiration May 1, 1927, processed 2008”; unique gelatin silver prints (diptych) from the series Lament, 2007–. NYPL, Wallach Division, Photography Collection

 
 
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Daguerreotypes are unique photographs with mirrorlike surfaces on silver or silver-coated copper plates. Unlike most paper photographs, daguerreotypes are not produced from negatives, and their images may appear either positive or negative depending on the angle at which light is reflected onto the surface of the plate. Although often considered among the most stable kinds of photographs, particularly in terms of resistance to fading in light, daguerreotypes are in fact quite delicate, susceptible to tarnish and abrasion. For this reason they are typically gilded to increase durability, placed in sealed packages behind glass, and then framed or encased. This daguerreotype, which was made as a visual reference to the now scarcely visible portrait, was likely never properly housed before entering the Library’s collections. Decades of exposure and handling provide a rare view of an organically aged daguerreotype. Portrait of George Washington, after Gilbert Stuart, by an unknown photographer; daguerreotype, ca. 1850. NYPL, Wallach Division, Photography Collection

 
 

Alison Rossiter (Canadian, b. 1953), “Darko, expires May 1928, processed in 2011”; unique gelatin silver print from the series Lament, 2007–. NYPL, Wallach Division, Photography Collection

 
 
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Alison Rossiter (Canadian, b. 1953), “Haloid Platina, exact expiration date unknown, ca. 1915, processed in 2007”; unique gelatin silver print from the series Lament, 2007–. NYPL, Wallach Division, Photography Collection

 
 
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Originally an actor and filmmaker, Yuichi Hibi began making photographs after moving to New York, where he has lived and worked since 1988. His background in film is evident in Greetings from... Shanghai, a series of photographs from his first visit to China in 2007. Confronted with omnipresent construction and urban sprawl, Hibi found himself seeking out the older parts of Shanghai, venturing down small alleys to create images that look like stills from a vintage Chinese film. To emphasize this old-world feeling, Hibi printed his images on expired photographic paper, resulting in an allover gray tone. The outdated appearance of the prints refers to the passing of a way of life — and, perhaps, of a medium. “Shanghai made me question my own world,” Hibi writes. “Why is it that I am always searching for something nostalgic to hold on to?” Yuichi Hibi (Japanese, b. 1964), “Night Club”; gelatin silver print from the series Greetings from... Shanghai, 2007. NYPL, Wallach Division, Photography Collection

 
 
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Yuichi Hibi (Japanese, b. 1964), "Classical Music"; gelatin silver print from the series Greetings from... Shanghai, 2007. NYPL, Wallach Division, Photography Collection

 
 
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Witho Worms (Dutch, b. 1979), “Peronnes, Belgium”; carbon print from the series Cette Montagne C’est Moi (This Mountain, That’s Me), 2006–. NYPL, Wallach Division, Photography Collection

 
 
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