this is [not] a photograph

b. 1956 Berkeley, California

For his Negative Paintings, David Berg uses a colloidal, oil-based paint to draw his landscapes on transparent plastic, whereby creating a negative. When placed in an enlarger, the negative painting produces a gelatin silver print that evokes an actual place, such as Bryce Canyon in Utah. While Berg succeeds in capturing the details of nature - including cloud formations and craggy surfaces - the reality is merely an enlargement of swirls of toxic paint on plastic. Berg's constructed landscapes challenge the viewer's perception of what is real and, by extension, the often-assumed veracity of photographs to document actual places.

Berg's recent works, from his Double Negatives series begun in 1990, incorporates color in an attempt to further blur the distinction between painting and photography. To create his improvised and organic abstractions, Berg layers two painted negatives together in the enlarger to create a final positive image. "By turning the science of the photographic process on end," says Berg, "I am also questioning whether science is the most appropriate tool for determining what is real."

Berg studied with Harry Fritzius in San Francisco from 1986 to 1989. Prior to that in 1976 to 1978, he studied in Tenerife, Spain, with Per Lilliestrom. Since 1978, Berg has been a Special Education Teacher with the Oakland Public Schools.

Artwork from top to bottom:

list of artists/artwork

Negative Painting #26, 1998
gelatin silver print / oil on mylar

Double Negative Mural #1,
2000, cameraless, filmless c-print

Double Negative #1, 2000
cameraless, filmless c-print

Double Negative #2, 2000
cameraless, filmless c-print

return to Carleton Collegereturn to Art Gallery