Image and alteration inform each other in Currents at CAM Raleigh

Photography and reality have gotten a divorce. According to the terms of their custody agreement, we the viewers shuttle back and forth between the fun parent who lets us use our imagination to construct what we see, and the strict parent who takes a sheer objective view.

But which is the strict parent, and which is the fun one?

CAM Raleigh provides a small but charged exhibition of works by nine emerging photographers asking that question. Curated by Nils Ericson, Currents draws upon Wilson, N.C.-based Allen Thomas’ collection, which should be familiar to Triangle viewers by now. Several recent shows, most notably Light Sensitive at the Nasher, have borrowed from Thomas’ impressive stash.

Most images in Currents have been substantially manipulated from what the camera recorded when its shutter opened and closed. Sarah Anne Johnson’s “Party Boat” (2011) leads off the exhibition with a mass of fireworks-shaped bursts of ink, gouache and marker

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