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Camera 35 cover, June 1975

A 40 story building with no windows is the subject of this work. The building is a former Bell Telephone center that houses secret technical equipment and is not open to the public. The bottom view is the front of the building. Notice there are two lights fixtures on the first tier. The top view is the back of the building and does not have light fixtures.

For the average passerby, the structure is a mysterious giant monolith sitting in the middle of midtown manhattan. Sensing this, Mitchell Funk proceeded to make a statement on it's strangeness. Shooting it with a hard direct light turns the building into a series of geographic white shapes with vertical black lines. He then inverts one image so it sits above the other image. This creates that "What is that?" response from the viewer. It is like the perplexing Ascending and Descending compositions M.C Escher.

To Funk, inverting and creating negative and positive spaces expresses the haunting nature of the subject matter. So how did he do it? In 1972, there was no digital and no photoshop. This is an in camera multiple exposure. The front of the building was shot with a polarizing filter to turn the blue sky black. That black area is where the second building could be perfectly and seamlessly placed without any indiction that it was "stripped-in" He then rewound the film and then turned the camera 180 degrees and shot the other side of the building and placed it in the black space.

Shot on Kodarchrome 25, the film was sent by courier service to Kodak in Fairlawn New Jersey for 2nd day processing. Photographers could never know what to expect from a shoot until film came back from the lab. In the case of a complex in-camera multiple exposure, guesswork and hoping were part of the photography equation. Camera 35 magazine, a leading Photography publications at the time, but now all but forgotten, loved the image and ran it on the cover 3 years later in 1975.
Mitchell Funk
American, b.1950
Camera 35 cover, June 1975
Photographs, Archival Pigment Print
2 of 20
29 x 43 in. (73.7 x 109.2 cm.)
Signed and dated lower right
Published , Cover Camera 35, June, 1975
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