Only a few weeks upon completing the credits for the MFA program in Media Arts at SIU, I chose to explore creative processes in the field of Fine Art Photography, in search for new pathways and techniques to include in future practice. In the past, photography has functioned as a helpful resource to inquiry for fresh dynamics and expanding my current interests in the realm of moving image and digital media.
The ethereal, yet intricate, quality of the photographic image remains a foundational tool for any media-based art practitioner. Experimental explorations in photography, perhaps because of their inherent demand of risk and uncertainty, have served as an informative process about the historical processes surrounding the materials and subjects I interrogate on a daily basis.
The whimsical, almost meditational, quality of the techniques presented in this 8-week studio production workshop will serve, I believe, not just as a closing reflection of a three-year long process on artistic inquiry, but will illuminate a point of departure for what's to come once I finish my stay in SIU. They will -metaphorically, but also literally- shed light upon what will be the next one.
This course is offered by professor Alison Smith, at the College of Art and Design in SIU. If you are interested in knowing more about it, you can contact professor Smith here.
ANTHROTYPES, LUMEN PRINTS
October 13, 2021
The first week of the course is focused on Lumen prints and Anthrotypes. These two camera-less prints use natural light as a source material to activate the chemical reaction of a material sensitive to light. Both rely on available light, where lumen prints use coated paper, anthrotypes use photo-sensible materials from the natural world, such as juice from vegetables or flower petals. Anthrotypes demand a longer time of exposure to the sun in comparison to lumen prints, given the natural origin of the material reacting to light.
Throughout the following weeks, I will be using two materials to create Anthrotypes:
On the left, paper coated with beet juice. On the right, paper coded with red cabbage.
For the lumen prints, I tried using purple onion, hoping to take advantage of the onion's softness to attempt multiple compositions, as well as experimenting with the potential chemical reaction of the paper against the onion.
For the lumen prints, I tried using purple onion, hoping to take advantage of the onion's softness to attempt multiple compositions, as well as experimenting with the potential chemical reaction of the paper against the onion. We will fix and scan the results in the upcoming days.
October 20, 2021
Photograms were the first contact I ever had with analog photography, as part of an introductory course in my bachelor's program, back in 2013. From that experience, I remember it as an unfamiliar process in which I failed to make an exposure multiple times, so I hadn't revisited the technique since then. In contrast with last week's exercise, we used the enlarger on photographic coated paper with exposures that range between 3 to 10 seconds.
I tried exposing different kinds of materials, from leaves and rocks, to one coin, and water on glass. In the end, the object that caught my attention the most was a small bottle, which was brought to class by professor Smith from her backyard.
I attempted several photograms with it:
Photogram of a glass bottle with four ranges of exposure, from 5 to 20 seconds.
October 27, 2021
Chemigrams represented a huge opportunity to embrace the whimsical quality of photographic experimentation. We applied a variety of materials, from glass gel, to canola oil, to maple syrup directly on the paper, before giving it a bath on developer or well, on fixer, then developer. As we advance on adding more options for the print to react, the possibility of unpredictable results increases, taking the process of decision-making to a primary, deeply sensorial, level.
Success in getting Chemigram prints relies on a sense of intuition, often followed by repetition. Method, although simple, becomes an active process of remembrance and immediate response to the sensitive qualities of the materials.