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Interview: Kerim Suner

Computer engineer and lebriz.com founder Kerim Suner has been an avid fan of collecting and photographing antique calculators for years. This month, Art 212 hosts Calculus 101, a series of Suner’s photographs taken using the wet-collodion process.

How did you come up with the idea of collecting and photographing antique calculators?
“Years ago, when I was touring the computer section of the Rahmi Koç Museum, I was shocked by how limited the selection was... I thought, ‘I would’ve had a better collection had I not discarded or sold the computers I’ve used to this day,’ so I went online and started gathering computers that were similar to the ones I had previously used. After a while, I got into collecting mechanical calculators, some of which I bought off websites like eBay while others I purchased from secondhand shops. I once made a day trip to Cologne just to participate in a live auction for a very special piece. Each of these machines is a work of genius, and I’ve always been in awe of their internal design and mechanisms.”

You took the photographs using the wet-collodion process. Could you tell us more about this technique?
“It’s one of the first photography techniques discovered by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851. Considered revolutionary at the time, this technique was abandoned soon afterwards, but it actually formed the basis of all the analog techniques that have survived to this day. With this technique, the photographer uses chemical solutions to coat a metal or glass plate with a photosensitive surface. After placing this plate into the camera and taking the photograph, he then puts it through separate baths for developing and fixing to achieve an entirely handmade image. I thought this was the technique best suited to photographing antique calculators due to its aesthetic and the fact it is a long-forgotten process despite once being the most common method available. With the wet-collodion process, each photograph is a unique object that can’t be reproduced.”

 

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