The history of photography is one of individual imagemakers bringing their cameras to the subject matter. The release of the Xerox 6500 color copier in 1973 transformed that supposition. The seismic shift that occurred for some artists is the focus of The Immovable Camera: Copy Art in the Bay Area, 1980-1984, an exhibition curated by Robert Hirsch, Tom Carpenter, and Kitty Hubbard in collaboration with the Xerox Historical Archives. 

The exhibit will be on view at the Tower Fine Arts Center Galleryat The College at Brockport from October 27 through December 11, 2015. The gallery is located at 180 Holley Street, Brockport, and the exhibit is free and open to the public. An opening reception will take place between 4 and 6 pm on Tuesday, October 27.

Once the “Xerox machine” was available for public use, imagemakers had to reverse course and bring their subject matter to the camera at a copy center where a trained operator ran the machine. This resulted in converting a solitary activity into one of artistic collaboration and information sharing; the “immovable camera” became a new photographic tool that fostered artistic community. Although developed with business applications in mind, artists immediately saw the visual advantages of the Xerox 6500 color copier including the creation of affordable permanent color photographic prints without the need of an expensive chemical darkroom or specialized training. Using a different color palette than film, the copier’s limited depth of field altered how pictures were composed. Experimentation was at the fore as there was no established aesthetic. Its near instantaneous results allowed quick conceptual and technical adjustments in consultation with the copy operator. The collaborative process was fun!