During a time when traditional analog photography was the only way to go and the idea of digital imaging was in its infancy, the quality of this new technology was struggling a bit. The problem was that as soon as you enlarged an image on the screen, it almost immediately fell apart in this blocky-looking, jagged mess. A new word was learned by photographers when that happened: bitmap. We found out that digital photographs were built on the same principles of early video games where the characters, landscape, and, well, everything, was made up of bits and blocks. Thus, bitmapped images became the calling card of early cameras and digital photographs. So when I first saw the work of Diane Meyer, I was immediately taken back to this time in a nostalgic way, only now with a renewed interest for how this look could illustrate concepts of time and memory. Meyers photographs are the result of a hybrid of digital, analog, and mixed media processes to create an illusion of something appearing pixelated in parts of the photograph, but this time using embroidery to create the effect. Over time she has developed this process into multiple bodies of work that explore these themes, with one such collection, Berlin, highlighted here.
While always interested in making things as a child, during her high school years, Meyers became more seriously interested in art, driven by a class in art history and darkroom-based photography courses. Then, during her college years, she felt the need to do something more “practical” in her career choice. Still, after changing majors several times, she eventually migrated back to her love of photography. Transferring to the Photography and Imaging program at NYU, where she graduated in 1999, Meyers followed this up by receiving her MFA in Visual Arts from The University of California, San Diego. Today, she is a Professor of Photography at Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles, and is represented by Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn.
The creative process of Meyers' photographs begins in a very traditional analog sense, for her, the Mamiya 7 camera and Kodak Portra film. Negatives are then scanned, and archival pigment prints are produced. Her pixelated effects are then made by hand embroidering directly into the print’s surface in selected areas. The embroidery resembles pixels directed by an interest in drawing on the visual language of digital imaging in an analog process.
For her Berlin series, Meyers photographed a wide range of locations taken along the roughly 100-mile path of the former Berlin Wall, from the city center to the city’s outskirts, following the original route of the Wall through suburbs and forests. In several of the images, the embroidered sections represent the exact scale and location of the former Wall, offering a pixelated view of what lies behind. As Meyers states, “By using the embroidery in a way that is reminiscent of pixels, a connection is being made between forgetting and file corruption.”