Week 9: Shadows

I’ve been racking my brain on what to do for this week’s theme, when I realized, I already have something which I just recently completed.

When thinking of shadows, one most likely thinks of the shadow that something casts.  You’re able to see interesting distortions to the original form, and the ground or object that the shadow is cast on can also create some interesting visual details.  One of my favorite things to do, however, has to do with the blockage of light, and the “shadow” which is cast from that.

When making cyanotypes, I’m always working with what shadow an object or negative will cast to leave some interesting mark on my paper.  It’s not a shadow in the sense of Peter Pan, or sitting under a shady tree, but the image which results is due to the shadow which is cast.  So when my “Alternative Processes” professor said that we needed to create negatives for out first project, I approached it in a similar way.  He told us to make “paper negatives”, where we layered different objects (like paper or tape) to make different densities and values once we develop our prints.  Hmmm…no thanks.  I’m not a fan of what kind of geometric and abstract forms that will create.  So I decided to find some objects, which ended up being feathers and plants from around the house, and and a few doodles.

I’ve never worked with feathers before, so I was hopeful to achieve some interesting and intricate details from those.  I’ve also never drawn on any of my negatives, but, since along with the paper and tape, he mentioned drawing on our negatives with different tools, I thought I would humor the idea and give it a try.

So there they are!  I love how they turned out, and I’m glad I decided to scan them, because the colors and contrast are great.  I have to say, this is nearing two months old, and I’m shocked to see how much color is left in these leaves.  Anyways, I started pretty much in this order.  I thought, “well, I’ll just do what I’ve always done.  I like that!”.  Since I’ve worked with photograms in the past, and have been wanting to get back in the darkroom to do more, I wanted to get back to the arrangements which I really liked; simple objects and compositions which let the light start to show through, creating interesting shadows and values.  Then I thought I would do a little drawing, to make sure I stayed in line with the assignment.  I didn’t know what to do, so I took my transparency sheet with the fern on it, and just began doodling.  I’m never confident in my drawing capabilities, but the more I did, the more I liked it.

With the easy ones done, and one complicated doodle, I had to think of some other ideas.  I did, after all, need a total of six negatives for the assignment, and I was only half way done.  There were a couple rejects, which I took to class and never ended up developing.  The winner, however, was the single feather.  I loved the shape of it, and knew all the little details would show through, but I didn’t want to have a whole bunch of really simple, single, objects.  So against my normal practice, I tried to draw a realistic yet simplified representation of the feather in a mirrored drawing.  I’m so glad I did, because that one (and its counterpart) ended up being my favorite.  With that, I had to organize my thoughts for the final critique, and decided to work in three sets of diptychs.  I did another mirrored object/drawing combination, and another complicated doodle.  I even messed with my simple objects, and ended up with the three sets you see above.

Off to the dark room I went, and I couldn’t have been happier.  MICA has a great darkroom, yet I hadn’t had the chance to get in there, or the introduction of how their set up works.  It felt great getting back in there and working with all the chemicals and enlargers again.  I love the smell.  I know, a little weird maybe, but I love it.

After a few practice exposures, everything was going well, and I’m really happy with the results I got.  I knew how the objects would react from previous projects, but wasn’t sure how the drawings would turn out.  I was just using a fine point sharpie on a transparency sheet, but it worked really well!  I thought for sure the light would shine through pretty easily, but the sharpie made a surprisingly strong barrier.  So with the darkroom bug biting me again, here are my “shadow” images.  Can’t wait to work with this some more, and I’m happy to say this class has had me in the darkroom for some other projects already.  Enjoy!

Week 20: Secret

Secrets….they’re interesting little things, aren’t they?  Some can be of a good nature, calling themselves surprises and providing a little mystery to life and bringing joy.  Some can be unexpected events, curveballs, and the things camouflaged in everyday life, being much more esoteric in nature.  In the same respect, secrets can be deceiving, perhaps calling themselves lies at times, and causing harm to others, as well as it’s keeper.  It’s incredible how one little word has so many meanings.  Even more incredible is that keeping a secret is an action which can have so many different reactions.  Will I divulge some of my “secrets” with this week’s theme?  I suppose you’ll just have to wait and see…

I find myself returning to a few themes in my photography, one of which is love.  However, I never cover “love” in a conventional way.  Sure, you can capture some really darling images of a couple walking hand-in-hand down a beach at sunset, but that’s not the point of view which I like to take.  I often look at love from the point of longing, wanting, desires, loss, and more recently, the unrequited.  Unrequited love is really quite a different type of love all on its own, and an incredible secret.  In examining emotions one would feel while experiencing it, I’ve tried to capture some images where the “lover’s” pain is evident.  Seemingly meaningless actions by the beloved can have such a great effect on the lover, and they may never know they’re causing this snowball of internal emotions.  There’s turmoil, euphoria, despair, obsession, and devotion swirling within one being on a constant basis, all the while another lives their life completely oblivious to it all.  Hopelessly hopeful.  Seemingly meaningless actions are being over analyzed, bringing false hope, while other meaningless actions bring incredible depression, convincing the lover that they will never have a chance to be with their beloved.

One of my favorite images of such emotions is derived from a meaningless action completed by another. A photocopied image of someone’s hand.  For most, they would just think someone was being a slacker at work, and entertaining themself with the copier.  From the perspective of the unrequited, however, it could be a countless number of things: a sign, a message, a chance to hold something which they may never have a chance to hold in reality — an extended hand.  Now, trust, I have control of my actions, and am not an irrational, obsessive person, but when I received this photocopy, and really started thinking about it, I couldn’t help but to pose as the unrequited.  Coincidentally, this occurred just after completing my first darkroom experience with photograms.  Since, as a class, we worked on photograms on the same day, which just so happened to be Valentine’s Day, I focused on an unrequited love theme for those images as well.  I think as a group, though they are visually very different, the meanings and intentions behind the images work very well together.  One expressing the physical, and the others expressing the emotional, imaginary, dreamy state which those hiding the secret of love may feel.  So as I think of another way to tell a secret for this week, enjoy these examples of the greatest secret of all; the unrequited love.