Robert Burley: The Disappearance of Darkness



In the brief time Robert Burley spent documenting the industrial infrastructure supporting analog photography, the world embraced a digital age. Suddenly a global population abandoned their film cameras and began to create and share photographs using data-driven devices. Companies such as Kodak and Polaroid were reduced to shadows of their former selves as they attempted to adapt to this new era. Burley traveled the world to make photographic records of the places and events that marked this technological transition, understanding along the way that his own medium and art form was changing as well. Seventy-one of his atmospheric, large-format photographs transport viewers to rarely seen sites where the alchemy of the photographic process was practiced over the last century - from the Polaroid plant in Waltham, Massachusetts, to the Kodak-Pathe plant in Chalon-sur-Saone, France, the birthplace of photography itself. As both fine art and documentary, The Disappearance of Darkness is an elegiac reflection on the resilience of traditional art forms in the digital era and a vital commemoration of a century-old industry that seems to have disappeared overnight.

Contributor: Robert Burley

Princeton Architectural Press, 2014