Nude Theory • Game Theory The Playful Works of Charles Swedlund

Thaumatropes, Zoetropes, Photographic Cube Puzzles, Stereo Puzzles, “Do-It-Yourself” Portfolios, Photographic Polyhedrons, Phenakistoscopes, Buttons, Gumballs, Peel & Stick Photographs, and “I Dare You to Burn This” Kits…

Turns out there’s nothing you can’t do to and or with a photograph …

Charles Swedlund has spent his career bending the rules and expectations that are supposed to govern the medium of photography. Wearing many hats, this photographer-teacher-scientist-author-prankster has spent his career as a serious artist and a dedicated communicator. With his own carefully crafted work as a guide (Swedlund has work in many museums and private collections) he has trained generations of visual artists at Southern Illinois University to think outside the darkroom and re-examine and refashion the reality of visual perception to further their own artistic reach.

Swedlund is a graduate of the famous Institute of Design in Chicago with its illustrious legacy of Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. But where they could be stoic, Swedlund is audacious. They helped create and define a modern visual language that Swedlund developed new ‘fonts” for…

NUDE THEORY, GAME THEORY explores for the first time a comprehensive examination of Swedlund’s approach to the endless possibilities presented by this visual medium. Firmly grounded in technical precision ( he also published one of the standard textbooks in the field ) Swedlund has branched out as a teacher to provoke the intellect, subvert expectations and challenge the imagination.

At the exhibition you will enjoy

‘PRESS’ photographs of babies that ‘squeak’ when they are gently pressed.

There is a Picture Puzzle created from beautiful silver prints trimmed onto a set of 49 cubes and producing a total of 295 surfaces / pictures. Six complete photographs can result, but it is far from easy !

A Phenakistoscope offers the experience of a motion picture with Swedlund’s carefully chosen prints providing in one case the illusion of a figure growing from a bud to a flower and then returning to a bud.

A Do-It-Yourself Portfolio wherein the recipient of the portfolio is supplied with carefully created negatives that await their first development and interpretation in a kind of blind date of collaboration…

In We Have a Daughter Swedlund photographed his pregnant wife’s silhouette every night for her entire pregnancy. Flipping the pages represents the growth of their baby.

With the Thaumatrope Swedlund has manufactured tiny photographs mounted for dispencing from a vending machine. The superimposed mages on the metal culver only present their intended image while seen in a spinning motion.

Pyro is a challenge by the artist for the recipient to again collaborate in the creation of a unique work of art by actually burning the edges of the photograph that is offered with a customized book of matches. Since fire cannot be well-controlled, whatever results, including complete destruction – will be a creative and unique act.


The carnival goes on at the Stephen Daiter Gallery.   From an old register that pops up photographic portraits instead of dollar amounts to Peel & Stick photographs to accordion booklets of Swedlund’s pet doing unmentionable acts – you’ll enjoy one of the most fertile and imaginative artistic sensibilities playing at full throttle. If you missed a chance to be one of Charles Swedlund’s lucky students please join us for this refresher course !