The image above is Gerhard Richter – Nothing but the destruction of things. It represents a physical change in regards to Photography and Painting.
During this post I wish to investigate into where to draw the line between Painting and Photography.
The relationship between Painting and Photography.
In an article written by Ming Thein for The Huffington Post, it discusses how the ability to make exact copies of Photographic works are incredibly easy, which lowers them in value (the more there are to go around, the less people will fight over them). In Photography it is possible to make a large number of copys of a negative, which means it isn’t as rare or exclusive as a Painting.
The article then goes on to discuss the rapid increase in digital photography, with its positive effects being beneficial to us from results from new and fresh talent. However by making digital photography easily accessible to all has decreased the value in the image on it’s own as everybody can take near enough the same image if given access to the same equipment, what creates the difference is the ideas involved.
“With the advent of photography in 1839, painting underwent a radical transformation. Nowadays, the digital process is revolutionizing photography. The chemigram, fusion of painting and photography, is most likely the ultimate adventure of gelatin silver bromide.” Pierre Cordier
In 1956 Pierre Cordier introduced the Chemigram process which combines Painting and Photography. This technique involves painting developer on to a sensitized surface such as photo sensitive paper or a wet plate collodian and then exposed to light.
The technique involves the physicals of painting using chemicals such as varnish, wax, oil and the chemistry of photography by using the photosensitive emulsion, developer and fixer without the use of a camera.
These large scale C prints by Rey Parla are entitled ‘Borderless’. They have been produced by the process called ‘scratch graphs’ which involves painting over large format film negatives (due to the large resolution available) and then processed and printed and what looks like have been scratched in to.“The title for the show is a metaphor for the multiplicity factor inherent in photography, which was born out of experimentation and has continued to sporadically germinate in all forms, methods, processes, and directions,” Parlá states “The title is a double entendre on the medium and the times we live in, beyond many other ideas.”
Exhibition: ‘Chemistry: explorations in Abstract Photography’.
This exhibition, curated by Karlyn Benson, director of Mattaewan Gallery in Beacon, New York selected six photographers who break the boundaries to what a photograph can be. The exhibition ran from may 2016 until June 2016. Below i will discuss the Artists chosen to represent this exhibition and how they created their work.
Wendy Small first began as a Painter, assisting Terry Winters for ten years. Small mentions in an interview with Musee magazine that when she began making photograms, she almost didn’t realise she had stopped painting, she didn’t notice the switch until she then came back to painting twelve years later. Her technique then progressed to painting with photo chemicals (as can be seen in the first image of her work above).
The bottom three images, which are from the series of ‘Micro Managed’ then move on to using the technique of cameraless photography ‘Photogramming’ which is a technique that involves light, objects, and dark room paper. Before digital Photography a negative was projected on to photo paper. Photograms use an actual object instead of a negative. The object is placed on to the photo paper and then expose the paper to light which then leaves a ‘tracing’ of the object. Different transparencies, translucencies in each object allow the differentiation of tone which create exciting and unusual results.
Wendy Small’s micro managed Photograms are the result of aiming to organise her objects in the darkroom to create a flow of clutter and details in a symmetrical form. At the time of making this particular work, the artist was juggling being a mother, making art and the other aspects of life which to me is a form of symbolism to how she felt at the time, i get the feelings from these photo’s due to the amount of clutter and lack of simplicity that this may have been an intense time for Wendy, and the peaceful, slow process of this technique in the dark room is what helped her to express this time.
Means was brought up in a farming environment in New York and later moved to New york city. Her work reflects senses of nature in the crowded city in which she calls her homeland.
This is one image from a series work by Amanda Means created by using a pen torch on photographic paper whilst listening to music in her darkroom. The transformation of sound energy to visual energy is something that i can really connect with and understand/find interesting in her work. To me, this is a really interesting way of recording expression from one persons point of view and reaction to a particular song such as how the rhythmic energy might make one person move the light pen, in contrast to others. Means compares this technique to a being similar to that of a ‘ritual dance’ and that ‘visual line is like melody in music’ (Amanda means, 2005) which i find an interesting thought.
Above is another series of work by Means, entitled ‘Abstractions: Chemistry’. Means has worked with Liquid Chemistry in trays for almost 50 years. Mainly interested in the different light to dark tones that can be created in the darkroom on to photographic paper, having loved working with the reverse technique through this she became a master printer, which throughout this time in which she created her own work in camera-less photography. The images above have been created through cutting and placing different sized paper, delicately scoring gelatin silver and folding in to fan shapes. Next Means exposes this under light using various light filtersand lastly developing the exposures in various different positions so the developer hits the paper in different place, she then lifts the paper out of the developer tray and lets the chemistry fall down the surface, many different effects occur from this which is controlled as well as being spontaneous – which i find is an exciting way to work.
Born in 1962 and from Gawler South Australia, Ross Felix is a Painter and Photographer.According to Saatchi art website, Ross Felix interests include design, art, painting and painting. He is also very interested in the way that people read art imagery and loves to play with people’s pre conceived ideas.
The result of Felix’s beautiful chemigrams resemble watercolour paintings, the technique is created by painting with the developer in the darkroom. The different tones and colours he is able to achieve are mesmerising to me.
Source: The British Journal of Photography, April 2015, Driven to Abstraction, page 35.
Yuji Hamada, A Japanese Photographer most interested in how 3D reality is compacted and represented as a flat 2D form through the process of Photography. His process includes breaking down the individual elements of photographs, the fibres. At a first glance his work resembles silk screen prints but from looking further in to his process they are actually very intricately made by emulsion lifting, which involves lifting the cyan, magenta and yellows from polaroids taken on a DSLR which he then prints on a portable printer and next overlays on sheets of watercolour to create a completely new set of images. The process is extremely delicate and time consuming, it involves using tweezers to pull apart each layer whilst the photos are in water three or four at a time. By exploring colour and shape it is a response to the question ‘What is a photograph?’, Hamada is not afraid to try new things and admits that with trying new things there are always failures but it is how we overcome them that counts.
“We see a lot of images in our daily lives, which led me to think about the value of these images and of my own. When I started the project, it was a challenge to use this technique in my art – not only because I was using tweezers to separate thin, coloured layers of a photograph, which made me nervous, but because I had a strange feeling of breaking up images, as though I was doing something bad.” – Yuji hamada.
In the above quote from Hamada it makes me feel at ease that eventhough he felt like this would be taking a risk within the ethics of how to treat photography, it is breaking boundaries and creating something brand new, so in my own opinion it is worth it as it is completely innovative and never been done before.
“Hamada works in an experimental way because he wants to know the possibilities of photography,” says Takahashi. “What is most important for him is to search for what it means to see through photographs, and what it means to see a subject.”
Chloe Sells’ works mainly focuses on nature and takes inspiration from aspects such as the landscape, plants and trees around her. Her work is shot on film using medium and large format cameras which are then processed in her darkroom. No details are given about the exact technique in her processes to achieve such a painterly results as she wishes to ‘leave that to the imagination’.
Sells says in relation to her work “I see a continual shift and unfolding as I move around the world as we adapt to hybrid ways of living. I live in two countries I was not born in; the landscape, languages and cultures are foreign to me. I will always, in some way, however subtle, exist in contrast to what I once knew as familiar, and to what is now foreign and familiar simultaneously.”
Colour, blur, texture and layering play a huge part in how the audience receives this as the layers give it more dimension and overall more context, adding more depth to each piece.
I feel as though the process used to create the image above has been done by first taking the photograph, developing in the darkroom, placing satin fabric in different rearrangements and then scanned by using a flatbed scanner and processing the colours into the work by changing the levels and adding colour in Photoshop.
Sells could have taken influence hear from the work of Amanda Means and her use of using a pen light to expose the swirling light effect, i think this because of the freedom it gives the whole image and the different intensity of colour from what could be the distance in which the pen light has been exposed to the paper, double exposures are also a technique that may have been used then later scanned into the computer using a flatbed scanner and then the adjustment of colours through photoshop.
Sells could have created this piece by laser printing the image on to fabric, folded in an array of ways in a concertina effect and then scanned into the computer using a flatbed scanner to then edit the levels on photoshop. It looks particularly like a scanner has been used due to the different ranges of tones achieved.
Coloured ink could have been used here with a pipette to manipulate this image, which then the surface could have been held in certain angles to obtain the effect.
Mariah Robertson – Chemical Reactions
Mariah Robertson’s work is considered sculptural but she has exhibited her works in New Yorks International centre for Photography, the Museum of Modern Art and the Saatchi gallery. This project started when her friend was throwing out some chemical paper that had already been exposed, that Robertson took under her wing and came to realise how beautiful the results are. In response to the dissemination of her work it has been said by The British Journal of Photography that the way that its displayed is a ‘comment between exhibitor and exhibition’ and also an ‘invitation for the viewer to interpret Photography in a different way’. It is completely on the viewer to decide how they want to see this art by creating different aspects in the form of which is has been displayed, in more academic words ‘Aesthetic Osmosis’ which was originally invented by Marcel Duchamp and means that the viewpoint of the viewer on to the artwork will determine the meaning of the piece.
From the M+B website which discusses Mariah Robertsons work, i found that her work stems from ‘issues with authority saying NO.” Below are some examples of ‘rules’ in which is seen by society that we should follow whilst using the darkroom however I feel more and more as time moves on, more people are breaking boundaries and becoming as creative as possible with what they have and not conforming.
‘Some easily summarized examples, both technical and opinion-based:
One is not supposed to use glossy paper because it is unsophisticated, bad taste, etc.
One cannot touch glossy paper with an ungloved hand because the oil from the finger will render it a damaged, invalid object.
One cannot have any dings, creases or dents in the photographic paper (“if you want to be taken seriously”).
Darkroom materials are made to function only with highly controlled, tiny amounts of light. Chemistry is made to function under tightly controlled temperature conditions.”