Not all cameras are created equal, nor do they often merit equal billing with the photographs in a show. But when celebrated Brooklyn-based shutterbug Thomas Roma gutted a Nikon in the '80s, he ushered in a new era in photography. He milled an adapter out of aircraft aluminum to go between the Nikon body and a Mamiya lens, creating a Pannaroma 1x3 camera. Invented at the request of legendary helmsman Lee Friedlander, it enabled practitioners of the art form to capture sweeping, panoramic scenes of the rural American heartland and gritty urban street landscapes on a scope previously unseen. Roma named his camera using a play on words between panorama and his wife's name, Anna, to create the word Pannaroma.
The first picture made with the camera -- a shot by Friedlander depicting Roma and his wife -- is on display in "Pannaroma -- Miami," an exhibit opening Thursday at the Miami Dade College Kendall Campus Gallery. It features the eye-popping vistas of 17 contemporary artists employing Roma's groundbreaking contraption. The show creates a conversation between veterans Friedlander, Gilles Peress, and the late Raghubir Singh, who were among the first to use the camera. It also includes successive generations of contemporary photographers, many of whom were students of Roma's over the past two decades. The range of photographic styles and print types finds a confluence in both Roma's artistic influence and the cult of the machine. The exhibit runs through October 29.
Mondays-Sundays, 6 p.m. Starts: Sept. 1. Continues through Oct. 29, 2011