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Thomas Bittner photograph of a Grain elevator in Buffalo, NY

UB philosopher to talk about ‘Silo City’ photo exhibition

By PATRICIA DONOVAN

Published September 5, 2013

Over the course of a year, UB faculty member Thomas Bittner visited the Silo City area of Buffalo many times, taking thousands of photographs of about 10 grain silos along the Buffalo River.

Many of those photos are part of an exhibition, “Silo City—a portrait of constancy and change,” that opened Aug. 27 in the Hangman Art Gallery in Toronto.

Bittner, associate professor of philosophy, will present an artist’s talk on his exhibition during a reception from 2:30-5 p.m. Sept. 8 in the gallery, 756 Queen Street East.

Bittner says the photos in the exhibition document his continuing exploration of these mostly disused silos along a one-mile stretch of the Buffalo River.

He took thousands of atmospheric, reflective and abstract photos from 2012-13 that he presented in two books: “Silo City” (2012) and “Winter in Silo City” (2013). “Winter in Silo City” features panoramic photographs of the grain elevators—many during snow storms—and other aspects of the silos that have an eerie, abstract quality.

View an e-book version of “Winter in Silo City.”

“As I came back again and again, I discovered how things change over the course of days, months and seasons but nevertheless remain the change,” Bittner says. “It is this interplay of constancy and change that to me reveals the essence of the place. It is this interplay I aimed to capture in the images selected for this exhibition.”

The exhibition includes paired photos of the same structures to demonstrate, he says, “how the dominant and stark character of the geometry of the American elevator amplifies subtle differences that arise due to weather and changes in the quality of light.”

Other photos document changes in the buildings’ reflections in the river. Still others concentrate on the abundance of patters that emerge from the silos’ structural details.

The exhibition will run through Sept. 15.

The Hangman gallery is open from 12 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

More Silo photos by Thomas Bittner