new-york

Kenneth Snelson

An aborigine, when shown a photograph of an elephant for the first time, can’t make heads or tails of it. We can, because after seeing millions of photographs, we’ve learned how to translate their flatness, limited scope and small scale and see in our mind’s eye the object photographed. Looking at Kenneth Snelson’s 360-degree panoramic photographs of Paris, I felt a little like that aborigine. The panoramic photograph is so unfamiliar that the mechanics of how one is made kept getting in the way of my really seeing it.

Snelson is best known for his amazing metal tubing and cable sculptures based on the principle of “tensegrity” (tension integrity) he discovered in 1948. But he has been making photographs for most of his life and traces his interest in photography to childhood and his father’s camera store. He shot the 12 panoramic photographs in this show in Paris in 1975. They’re of urban

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