Tom Bamberger, former photography curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum, is one of the city’s most prominent artists. Portrait Society’s 2016 exhibition featured images from the 1980s which were made with studio lighting, a 35 mm camera, and a very slow film officially called SO 424, a Laser Recording Film that required special chemistry to achieve a continuous tone effect. Bamberger created a Point Light source enlarger to preserve the details. The resolution is many times higher than conventional pictorial films. The artist said, “I wasn’t interested in being old fashioned. I just wanted the surface, the details, of the photograph to appear to be a solid, like marble.”
The artist’s recent work involves digital technologies that explore questions of time and perception. Using a hi-res panoramic device known as a GigaPan, the artist cultivates exposure times of 45 minutes or more, as a way of tracking light and change over an expanded period of time. These images can then take the form of enormous horizontal compositions, measuring anywhere from 9 to 36 feet long.
Another recent piece titled “OK,” in the permanent collection of the Museum of Wisconsin Art, is an epic, three-screen narrative of silent images. Bamberger assembled and sequenced over 6,000 images of past events, people, and places. He invites the viewer to make connections as the three screens randomly sift through the images creating seemingly infinite triptychs of unrelated pictures that activate our brains to organize, label and assess the information.
Tom Bamberger’s work is included in many public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Art Institute of Chicago; the Cleveland Museum of Art; Harvard Business School; First Bank Minneapolis; Cornell College, Iowa; and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He attended Boston University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he studied philosophy and taught mathematical logic. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including shows at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the ASA Gallery at the University of New Mexico; and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Bamberger has received both a NEA grant and a fellowship from the Wisconsin Arts Board.