Joachim Schmid takes a unique approach to photography: He doesn't press the shutter. Nor does he even use a camera. Instead, he believes the world has enough photographs, so he appropriates what he finds on the streets, trash heaps, and flea markets and arranges them in his own unique manner.
He's equipped with a wry sense of humor, which he used when he displayed work that appeared to be from luminaries like Ansel Adams and August Sander but wasn't. The exhibit "Joachim Schmid: Selected Photoworks 1982-2007," a mid-career retrospective of his work, includes a 100-photo portion of his mammoth, 900-photo signature series "Pictures From the Street," which he's been foraging for since 1982. Also featured is 1991's "Photogenetic Drafts," in which he created collages out of negatives cut in half and discarded by a studio photographer, fashioning frightening new Frankenstein headshots out of the rejects. "Belo Horizonte, Praça Rio Branco" contains 45 pictures that were created using the cast-off negatives of "while you wait" photographers who worked in a plaza in Brazil. For "Cyberspaces," he did press the shutter, if you consider taking a screen shot of your computer photography. For the series, he visited porn sites, watched the sex cams, and captured his images only when the women walked out of camera range, revealing the empty environments in which they ply their trade.
The exhibition runs concurrently with the group exhibition "Dark Matters: Artists See the Impossible," which features such high-tech wonders as the Internet-eavesdropping Listening Post, surveillance projects, 360-degree photographs, and many other journeys into obscure or hidden realms. An opening reception for both shows, with an installation by Eric Bauer and Noel von Harmonson and music by Honeycut and DJ Mark Gergis, starts tonight at 8 p.m. (and the exhibits continue through Oct. 14) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third St.), S.F. Admission is free-$15; call 978-2787 or visit www.ybca.org. -- Michael Leaverton