Marcia Neville | University Communications
DENVER – Think of photographer Carol Golemboski's award-winning iPad app as a coffee table book about photography — without the coffee table or the book. Instead, the area head of photography at the University of Colorado Denver takes the reader far beyond the traditional printed words and photos.
Golemboski uses interactive video and graphics to present her photo series "Psychometry" and both the book world and the app world are taking notice. Recently Golemboski and her digital design partner Roxanne Davison were named as one of three finalists in the App-Adult Nonfiction category of the 2014 Digital Book Awards. The winner will be announced in January.
Earlier this year, "Psychometry" was honored as one of 12 Outstanding Books of 2013 by the Independent Publisher Book Awards for Outstanding eBook Achievement.
"We weren't sure how the app was going to be received," said Golemboski. "I wanted it to be seen as a book that opened up the mind to new ways of displaying and interpreting photography and artwork. So, being recognized by the Independent Publishers for a book award is validation."
The twist in all this is that Golemboski is an old-school film and darkroom photographer. So, her decision to distribute her art through cutting-edge technology seems to be a little out of character.
"It really makes more sense than it seems," Golemboski said. "The entire series of photographs was about exploration and this just ties it all together. The app shows how we could we go beyond the gallery or the traditional book and put the entire photography process into the viewer's hands. Instead of self-publishing a book I decided to go for a completely different experience."
Golemboski and Davison collaborated on the project soon after Davison graduated from the University of Colorado Denver with a BA in art history and a BFA in digital design. Her two degrees proved to be the perfect combination. "She's a great designer. The layers she added made all the difference."
"Roxy was able to bring the whole concept to life by animating the experience. She took the still images and figured out a way to make sense of them visually. With the user's touch, they literally leap off the screen."
Davison describes the process as challenging and fulfilling. "I had to create an app based on another artist's motif that would be experienced by the user in a way that reflected my design style. The project was a constant discussion of ideas on design and content. I think the collaboration was so successful because of Carol's input in describing what experience she wanted users to have."
The foundation of the app is the photographs themselves along with the process Golemboski used for creating them. Davison uses video and graphics to take users into the darkroom, behind the lens and out on location. Interviews with Golemboski add depth and background to the experience.
Golemboski describes her "Psychometry" photo series as psychological and "kind of creepy." The cracked and discolored vintage objects she photographed act as stand-ins for various levels of anxieties and emotions. The photos are intended to be the visual translation of those feelings. And it's all explored through Davison's unexpected, interactive digital layers.
The photo series, and the iPad app exploring it, is the culmination of an 18-year process. It began when Golemboski was a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., and continued when she was an assistant professor and Pendleton Fellow at Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y. Along the way she discovered isolated locations for her photography shoots. She haunted antique shops and flea markets to search out the perfect vintage object. Some shops in her mother's town of Fredericksburg, Va., even allowed her to borrow pieces for a day's photo shoot and then return them.
She describes her work at Virginia Commonwealth as pure inspiration. At Ithaca College, she says she became more premeditated and adds that the wealth of old objects she found during her time there were an inspiration. The huge amount of objects she collected along the way continue to crowd her studio and can be seen on the app.
Golemboski added the final layer to her mind-bending series at CU Denver. She did additional research and reached for an additional level of accuracy to add depth and meaning to each photograph.
The result is a photographic series that has people talking — about her non-traditional efforts to get her work out there by using an award-winning iPad app as much as the art and the photographs themselves.
"I physically manipulated the objects and the locations as I was taking the pictures," Golemboski explained. "Then, in the darkroom I manipulated them even more until they felt right. The app was created in much the same way, allowing the users to manipulate their own experience. Each one explores 'Psychometry' in a personal way."
Golemboski's iPad app "Psychometry" can be purchased on iTunes for $9.99.
(Photo: Roxanne Davison, left, and Associate Professor Carol Golemboski, center, accept an award when "Psychometry" was honored as one of 12 Outstanding Books of 2013 by the Independent Publisher Book Awards for Outstanding eBook Achievement.)