The panoramic photograph as a compositional tool has been around nearly as long as photography itself. From the birth of the medium, there has been a strong desire to see outside the normal scope of our vision — beyond the bounds of the conventional photographic frame. Armed with a 360-degree, digital panoramic camera of his own design, local photographer Ansen Seale has succeeded in pushing past the boundaries of the frame with his new exhibit, Circumfrence: A Panoramic View of San Antonio Architecture.

Seale's style was originally designed to give his commercial clients "virtual tours" of properties and spaces, and he has masterfully employed his new tool to create a photographic collection of the city's unique architectural features with an interesting twist — literally. The 360-degree circular rotation of the camera alters perspective, bowing and deforming horizontal lines; the viewer's sense of direction is skewed by the simultaneous shadow and light of the structures visible in a single plane, resulting in a view of the world that our naked eyes cannot take in.

Mission Concepción, the central library, and the San Antonio Museum of Art stand out from their surroundings while also showing the importance of the environment around them. The Spanish Governor's Palace flows in waves across the length of the image. In his panoramic of the Alameda Theater, Seale "does away with perspective altogether," by driving past the historic building with his camera mounted to his vehicle; with the shutter open, he achieves "a surprisingly abstract rendering of the building's facade." With an off-center placement and exaggerated, forced perspective, Seal's image of Mission San Jose's long, arched walls appear to extend infinitely. With so many dull photographs of the historic missions, it is exciting to see such a fresh approach to these important links to the rich culture of the city.

As creative and interesting as Seale's work is, it is unfortunate to see it displayed in such a hostile environment. Although I applaud the San Antonio International Airport for showcasing the work of local artists, I wish that they could find an alternative to the half-inch thick Plexiglass wall that surrounds the exhibit space, forcing the viewer to be separated from the detail-rich images by three to four feet.

Circumfrence: A Panoramic View of San Antonio Architecture
A Photography Exhibit by Ansen Seale

Available for viewing 24/7
Through December 31, Free
Opening reception 6-8pm Tuesday, September 17
Airport Art Spaces, Terminal 2
San Antonio International Airport, 9800 Airport Boulevard, 207-3459


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