Language Acquisition: Collages

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Soon after I began studying photography in the late 1990’s, I shied away from the darkroom. Silver gelatin prints were the standard, and felt mass-produced and devoid of physicality. I wished to see the hand-made mark in my work, and to create objects. Once digital photography became the standard, the darkroom lured me back, as the tables had turned and a silver gelatin print became an object. Chemigrams became a natural progression for me to explore photographic paper as a physical medium unto itself, more than simply the substrate on which an image taken from the outside world rests. The process weaves my concerns of the evolution of photography with mark-making as an intuitive act.

My collages are the result of reworking singular gestures that did not result in strong compositions, either due to a timidly-created mark, or the resulting chemigram steps that altered contrast and/or color. My collages began when I started to connect the similar marks created among various compositions. I look for a sense of movement and variety in recombining the chemigram strips. I push the perceived materiality of the chemigram in the Fissures pieces, letting the wood panel show through in order to equate the two surfaces as valid physical artmaking materials. The gestures are further interrupted, forcing the viewer to connect the motion on their own.

In the Pattern-Speak subseries, I am more directly influenced by formulas and even quilting to create objects that forego the panel substrate altogether. Each piece is created with my sewing machine, as I attempt to emphasize the stitch as a part of the composition, not just the means to construct the object. I look to parallels between sewing and analog photography, in that sewing machines were once viewed as a technology that helped people make clothing in a quicker more automated way, yet nowadays, using a sewing machine is seen as more of a “handmade” way to create. The same is to be said for silver gelatin paper – once the standard way to create a photograph, silver gelatin is now seen as “handmade” and object-like.

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