Thomas R. Schiff: The Poetics of Distortion

February 15, 2019 to March 31, 2019
Thomas R. Schiff: The Poetics of Distortion
50 Scott St.
San Francisco - 94117 CA
The Harvey Milk Photo Center and SFArtsED Gallery are pleased to announce a book release and two-part exhibition of work by Cincinnati-based photographer Thomas R. Schiff. The Poetics of Distortion: Panoramic Photographs of the San Francisco Bay Area presents familiar icons in San Francisco's built and natural environment from a comprehensive perspective. Thomas R. Schiff's latest work will be on view in February 2019 at the Harvey Milk Photo Center and the SFArtsED Gallery at Minnesota Street Project. The simultaneous exhibitions will present separate collections, encouraging viewers to both locations to experience the artist's expansive vision. Both openings are free and open to the public.

In The Poetics of Distortion, Thomas R. Schiff marshals his technical mastery to convey a lifelong fascination with the San Francisco Bay Area's unique visual aesthetic. Stately structures including Coit Tower and Oakland's Paramount Theater appear to ripple across Schiff's viewfinder, suggesting movement where there is none. Schiff's mastery of panoramic techniques produces thrilling and unexpected views that refresh our perspective of sites known worldwide for their dramatic beauty.

Panoramic photography is a specialized technique in which a camera rotates in a broad sweep, capturing a continuous image of the world around it. Expanding the human field of vision, it allows us to see what is in front of us, to either side, and behind us, all at once.

Living in a densely image-saturated world, we are accustomed to seeing landmarks in our physical or virtual environments from particular perspectives, especially the scenic points that make the San Francisco Bay Area so appealing. Schiff's elegant, vibrantly rendered images interrupt that easy cognitive shorthand. He invites us to see what is familiar in public spaces-SFMOMA's main lobby or the plaza that fronts the Contemporary Jewish Museum-from a different perspective. Through his lens, we are encouraged to recognize distortion as a generative looking opportunity, to see what we think we know anew.

Schiff studied photography under Clarence White, Jr. and Arnold Gassan while earning a BBA degree from Ohio University in 1970. A photographer since childhood, he has continued working in various photographic formats for the past forty years. His early work featured black and white images focused on architectural detail, storefront facades and windows. Schiff began working in color panoramic photography in 1994 making use of a Hulcherama 360 panoramic camera.

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