German graphic designer, typographer and photographer, Anton Stankowski truly made a mark on photographic history. As a student Anton, as well as some other students of the Folkwang School of Design, used the janitor’s basement as a darkroom, for diverse photographic experiments. Whether they were exposing light on to the film or the paper, making photomontages or, photograms. After finishing his education he kept taking photographs using the medium as an objective way of documenting thoughts and later as a specific working method.
Having never done photograms, I- the researcher, used this opportunity to go to the darkroom and use similar materials as Anton Stankowski did at one time to remake one of his photograms using only certain amount of light to portray nails onto the light sensitive paper. By doing this part of the research I got a deeper understanding of photograms, and realized overall how much you can play with lighting in photography itself. Here is the result of my remake:
Early in the process of developing my negatives I saw that some pictures seemed to have had some unusual light exposed on them by mistake leaving some pictures cut into half with different lighting on each half. When developing one of these photos on to paper I moved my hand under the light while the film was being projected on to the paper causing less light to reach that specific part of the picture. In spite of these clumsy mistakes this image is a favorite from the experiments. This series of unfortunate events having such a good ending made me think about how much of Anton’s work in the darkroom, especially as a student, was a coincident that lead to something interesting and how much of it went as planned and still had the same outcome as he wanted.
Going through Anton Stankowski’s photographic collection I noticed that they are nearly never showing faces of people. In his self-portraits a face can be seen, but even then it is ether blurred or moved. Another noticeable theme from his collection is how often he photographed street life (more often than not from his balconies – or at least with a view looking down on his subjects). Therefor when taking pictures to develop and include in the research I tried to have these two notes in mind.
Stankowski was one of the first to make so called typographic photomontages, though definitely, taking his inspirations from his teacher Max Burchartz. Using these typographic photomontages in advertisements while working for an advertisement agency in Zurich he quickly became the pioneer of Swiss Constructivist commercial graphics.