2017-2018 | gelatin silver prints, chromogenic prints
Surfacing is a camera-less project that explores the materiality of photomedia and the potential for a new kind of landscape photography. These pictures are made ‘with’ rather than ‘of’ the environment by using natural phenomena as both the subject of and the means to create artworks. While landscape photography historically depicts scenery and implies distance, this project makes a literal connection between the forces of an environment and a photographic image, created by exposing light-sensitive film and paper to geothermal activities and salt and algae-laden lake waters. The series incorporates different approaches applied to both gelatin silver and chromogenic photo papers.
Surfacing (gelatin silver), gelatin silver paper, geothermal activity, approx. 28 x 35.5 cm (11 x 14 in) or 40.64 x 50.8 cm (16 x 20 in) each
In this first approach, silver gelatin photographic paper was physically exposed to geyser plumes and steam vents to create unpredictable forms and colours. Black and white gelatin silver darkroom paper reveals pink, grey, blue, purple, and orange forms that developed through correspondences between the silver particles suspended in gelatin on the surface of paper, the chemical and temperature composition of the geothermal features, the UV rays from the sun, and the duration of contact.
Surfacing (chromogenic), printed from photographic film submerged in salt and algae laden lake water approx. 101.6 x 213 cm to 101.6 x 228.6 cm (40 x 85 to 40 x 90 in)
While the silver gelatin images were rendered within moments, the chromogenic images took months to form. Photographic film was submerged in lake water laden with salt, algae, and bacteria for months on end; the results were printed in the analog darkroom as if a typical negative. Instead of imaging the instantaneous photographic moment, a more earthly time emerged on the film. Salt crystals formed and the emulsion began to break down. The images show what seems to be arrested degradation.
With both of these approaches, the images begin to highlight the properties of photography while resonating with aspects of the earth — minerals, time, and transformation — oscillating between the objects that they are and the interactions and phenomena they embody. Surfacing accentuates the photochemical reactions, topological shifts, and ongoing transformation of earth processes that can be found within photographic practices — making visible the notion that photography is an echo of the elemental.