Four Days of Darkness

Over the past four days I have spent most of my waking hours in the darkroom.  Compelled by a sudden burst of visions and ideas I confined myself to the darkness of my small lab.  That is the way it is for me, the sudden burst of creative activity I mean.  I have friends that seem to be able to create at will, whenever they happen to have a moment of free time.  They just sit down and get on with making art.  For me it is a bit more painful because I will want to create but the ideas, focus, or energy just are not there.  Then there are other times like this weekend when there is not enough time in the day or supplies in the lockers to bring everything into the world.

Above is a large dry plate image that was made on May 15, 2009.  It is the largest dry plate image that I have ever attempted at 18×13” (height x width).  No matter how much experience one has with pouring plates (dry plate or wet collodion) the larger the plate the more sweat that naturally forms on your brow.

Technicalities aside, it is the weight of a large plate that I find most attractive.  Although plate photography in all its forms I find very attractive visually, it is the involvement of the hands that draws me most I think.  The act of creating something with the hands seems so powerful.  Add in some tears and blood caused by mystery chemical problems, cuts from sharp glass, and lost “perfect” images due to fate and you have the ultimate combination of elements to draw me like a moth to an open flame.

The image above is part of an ongoing project exploring a wide range of thoughts which are centered on the natural world and our interaction and impact with/on it.  Study of cabinets of curiosities has played a large part in the direction of the images so far.  As time moves on and the collection grows the images are changing adding an interesting visual record of the transformation of my ideas.  Most of these images get posted to my Flickr account and often broadcast on Facebook.  Many photographers and artist only release completed work for the world to see, hiding their screw-ups and transitions in direction in the closets of their studios.  The reasons for this are numerous from the idea they should present the image of the master who never makes a mistake, or are insecure in showing work that it not guaranteed to be received as great.  There is something to be said for showing a tightly edited body of work and I fully support this approach, but I feel that being open (to a point) is important too.  I do not show the massive amount of complete junk that comes from my darkroom but I do not mind showing the process of building a complete body of work. At the risk of seeming too open I enjoy letting others see what I am making…the good, bad, and the ugly.


~ by Phil Nesmith on May 18, 2009.

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