Photography is science masquerading as magic — or is it the other way around? Anyone using a cellphone camera is likely to hold with science. Anyone who’s seen an image emerge in a darkroom surely votes for magic. Among the many virtues of “The Doors of Perception: Vision and Innovation in Alternative Processes” (terseness of title isn’t among them) is how the show is equally forthright in implicitly raising the question — and then declining to answer it.
The exhibition, curated by Francine Weiss, runs at the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University through March 23. It consists of work from seven photographers. All of them use unusual photographic formats — or, and this is an important distinction, formats that now seem unusual. Daguerreotypes and tintypes and platinum and palladium prints were once far more common, or even the norm. That’s why “alternative” figures in the subtitle. But the fact that these processes are unusual now makes the images made with them seem unusual, too, sometimes to the point of seeming, again per the subtitle, visionary and/or innovative.