Fine Art Photography Daily

Peter Tonningsen

Unfortunately I didn’t get chance to meet California photographer, Peter Tonningsen, at Photolucida, but his images were well showcased at the event. Peter approaches and presents his work with a unique point of view, and his broad range of images and interests are quite refreshing. After studying art at the San Francisco Art Institute and San Jose State University, he is currently an adjunct photography instructor at The Academy of Art University and has also been an artist-in-residence at Kala Art Institute in Berkeley since 2006. In addition, Peter is the recipient of the Phelan Art Award in Photography, which recognizes significant California born artists.

His series , Floatsam and Jetsam, is currently on exhibition at the Eclectix Gallery in El Cerrito, CA, through August 16th.

“Alameda-based fine art photographer Peter Tonningsen scours the Bay’s shoreline for this series, Flotsam and Jetsam, which is all about the discarded items he finds while beachcombing. He cleans them up, scans them, puts them together in interesting associations and produces a digital archival pigment print—without using his camera. “Made without a camera, film or paper coated with light-sensitive emulsion, I never imagined that I could make photographs without these essential components,” says Tonningsen. “Image capture by scanning is nothing new, but it is a fresh exploration for me, and I am intrigued by its possibilities. This project is about discovery, and it calls attention to cycles; things we possess and then discard, what the Bay leaves behind with the rising and falling of the sea and the repetitive process of finding, gathering, organizing and revitalizing such debris.”

Images from Floatsam and Jetsam

“I was developing a growing interest in the general notions of collection and categorization. A friend who works at UC Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology noted the parallel between these interests and the vast collections there and invited me to come photograph these specimens. I seized the opportunity as I have always been drawn to the mystique of science and I found the researchers and scholars working here to be very encouraging and interesting people, committed to all sorts of evolutionary study. I wanted to somehow translate all the excitement and wonder I discovered here into something visual.”

Images from Descent

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