The debut of Digital Darkroom

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"Plastic Surgery Progression" by Alexa Harvey. Photo taken by DJ Cabanlong.

After walking through the doors of the Grant Hall gallery, attendees were immediately greeted by a series of startling photographs depicting a syringe and dashed lines contorting a woman’s face. It takes only moments for the message to convey itself and a familiar feeling in your gut weighs you down; as you stare at the woman, you cannot help but empathize with her insecure hunger to assimilate herself to societal beauty standards. Attendees of the gallery move around the room and experience a familiar phenomenon as their eyes take in and enamor the different works displayed on the four walls of the gallery.

The debut of Digital Darkroom’s first photo gallery was available to view from Sept. 12 through Sept. 22. Stark white walls of the small room came to life as works of Digital Darkroom’s photographers pervaded. The club was founded at UNLV in the spring of 2022 by the President, Rick Arevalo.

Rick Arevalo is a marketing major at UNLV and started the club with the intent of creating a community for students that will foster their passion for photography, regardless of what major they are. 

Arevalo explained, “In my second year, I realized that there wasn’t really a community for student photographers, even people who are into video, or just anything in the visual arts who are not directly art majors. So I wanted to make a club that was a community for people to share their work and grow.”

On the right side of the room, Arevalo’s four photographs take up a quarter of the wall titled “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” From his photographs, the audience was able to see an array of beautiful moments from his travels through his eyes. The top two of his four photograph series ranged from skyscrapers to the ocean stretching out over the horizon in Manila, Philippines. The bottom two photographs depicted an orange sunset and a landscape shot over the beach with textured rock peaking around the edges in the Hawaiian island of Maui.

Looking towards the middle of the room, hanging on the wall, a series of five photographs overlapped with what seems to be one’s most precious moments, silently urged to be seen. Griffith Trumpler, the Vice President of Digital Darkroom, took an approach to his photos that allowed the audience to relate to his photos in a personal way. 

Trumpler explains the meaning behind the title, “Fractions of Summer.” Trumpler shares,“It’s meant to represent the idea that as you get older, each day that you live becomes a smaller and smaller fraction of your life, so each summer you keep living become smaller and smaller fractions. It’s meant to capture that blur, that feeling of ‘where did summer go?’” 

Griffith’s photos were taken this past summer and are multiple exposure half frames out of a Kodak H85, with two photos or more per slot of film. 

As attendees wrap around the room, it is hard to forget the series of five photos that are hung in the front of the room when you walk in. “Plastic Surgery Progression,” the work of Alexa Harvey tells a bold message that is left to be inferred by the audience.

Harvey says that her inspiration for the work came from her fascination with the idea of plastic surgery and the beauty standards that the media pushes upon society. 

She also contributed her inspiration to music artist, Melanie Martinez. Harvey explains, “She has a music video called ‘Mrs. Potato Head’…[it’s] about plastic surgery and all that. I love that music video, so I kinda tried to take my own spin on it.”

Digital Darkroom’s photo gallery debut was successful and in the near future it is hopeful to expect another event. To learn more about the club or future events, follow Digital Darkroom on Instagram @digitaldarkroomunlv.

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