[Steve's brief feedback: The text is strong because you talk about what you make and how. I think you should add some images to illustrate the process you describe and we can take a look at it again. This mode of address is very good preparation for the second year, and a thesis which analyses your practice through description of process. Good work].
My tendency to work with reflections, distortions and layering in photographs, combined with the urge for physicality, found itself a place in the images I am making. There are two methods in my practice; they are similar, but different. One is with the scanner, the other in the dark room. Considering the final outcome, one can be considered digital, while the other is considered analog, but considering my physical approach to the image, I believe they are all analog. There are certain limitations to every method, but it can be fun to play around with them.
My working method in the darkroom was, producing work almost in an automated manner, especially in black and white darkroom, where the results are almost instantly visible, and you can alter the next version of the image according to the previous result. The red light does not affect the black and white photo paper; therefore it is possible to see the negative image on the paper without exposing it using a red filter lens. This helps when I am trying to place a particular object on a particular place in the image, for example putting a circular lens in the circular eyeball, or a black strip on top of eyes. This is something that is not possible in the color dark room, as you work in pitch black and the paper is extra sensitive.
In the scan practice there are less limitations, and more place to experiment. It is just the time that you lose when you have a failed experiment, not the photo paper, or the chemicals. The area you can work on is reduced to a certain surface, it is a 3D environment however it feels too 2D, as “the height” in the scanner is almost a centimeter. However what matters more to me is when it comes to the result achieved through scanning, it is somehow less satisfactory when compared to the darkroom, as you do not have a physical object as a final outcome.
For example I wanted to discover how a liquid would act on a photograph. For this method I worked with the scanner in the studio, placing a negative in a small plastic bag or a small glass case where its surface is adjacent to the scanner surface, but they do not touch each other directly. Placing the film negative in a bag filled with water, I acquired a new kind of texture consisting of bubbles and droplets. This way the water becomes one layer in the final image, accompanying the negative itself, the container it is situated in, and others, such as transparent tape or a lens.
A specific roll of film might help us see how different approaches resulted in different outcomes. This certain Ilford roll is a black and white film with 100 ASA, which has actually expired two years ago. On the roll are certain images of my friends from the course like Felix, Ben and Ana. The important thing with the images on this roll is that they have been processed in many ways through different methods, so they can set good examples for what an image can be.
For another one of the photographs on the roll, I asked Ana to scream towards the camera. Now this certain photograph translated into many different versions, so I think it can be helpful when we talk about methods.
First of all, the photograph by itself, the pure negative, only edited slightly to have more contrast, is an image. Analog printing is a way of making and distributing images that existed as the norm in the past. My choice of the subject, the action, the setting, the angle can tell a lot about my intention when producing a photograph.
I really liked the expression in the photograph, so I scanned it in the Flextight scanner in the image and sound station to have a big TIFF file that I could use to make a big digital print. The bigger the print, the more we’d see of the texture that comes with the film medium. The textures tell a lot, they are highly informative. You can see the fabric of the image or the object, so you see what it really is, not just what it represents. It becomes an inward journey to the essence, at least in the material sense.
In the darkroom I manipulated this image by placing a string on top of the head, thinking of it as an exclamation point in comics, or a straight line affected by the sound of the scream and therefore is not straight anymore. For another version, I placed a tube with one point in the mouth and the other leaving the photo paper, reaching all the way up to the enlarger, to the negative placed in the film holder. Both versions of the images with both materials had a certain association. With the combination of these photographs, I tried to create a manipulated image.
I had also taken a photograph of the computer screen with my iPhone while I was scanning with Flextight. Where this came handy was when I noticed that I could do “digital” prints in the darkroom. So I projected the image on my phone to the photographic paper in the darkroom, resulting in an interesting image, interesting because it is highly informative in the sense that we are really zoomed into the photograph, seeing the grain of the film, really clearly, but if we go closer again we’ll see the pixels that make up the image.
In the color darkroom, using the same, black and white film negative, and a lenticular lens, I achieved a different version of the same image, where the image had lost a lot of information on what the subject is, and gained some new information with the new layer that was introduced.
With the scanner, a series I did are images in which we see the coexistence of a certain object and its photograph. The photograph in the image exists in an analog way, physically, as a film negative. Through compositions I try to create balance, though mostly it seems that objects are dominating the final image.-
The photograph becomes a medium of expression. I don’t know why I like it, it may be the discharge of emotions, how the photographic space becomes a place for expression, and not only as the subject does it but the choice of making this photograph also becomes my way of expression. I like it when things are let out. Unloading always feels good, whether you are excreting or ejaculating, confessing or screaming from the top of your lungs, it makes you feel good, and so can producing art, if it becomes a way of expression.
While reading Flusser’s book, there were some notions that took my attention, one being the “informative images”. Flusser states that the apparatus is programmed to create images according to its program, and the images that come out of this program have a high probability of becoming redundant images. However he says that artists dealing with “experimental photography” are trying to push the limits of the apparatus, therefore creating something that is not encoded in the program, something new. When I look into my practice I see how these images I am making correspond to this, by introduction of different layers, am I adding more information on the photographs? I think a bigger point here is that I am pushing the limits of apparatuses, as the camera is not the only tool I use in making of these images, but it is mostly the scanner, or the enlarger, and the objects I choose to use. Can my images find themselves a place in the photographic universe, or do they belong somewhere else?