COLLODION/CHEMIGRAM

                               MERIDIAN is a selection of large format wet collodion direct positive plates with chemical surface alterations. Elizabeth King is credited with saying “process saves us from the poverty of our intentions.” But process, in working with a chemical and material balancing act, can eclipse nearly every other issue when considering what to address in the content of the work. The imagery is drawn from objects made by my grandmother, and items from my studio and yard.  The plates are marked and stamped with random items scrounged just before entering the darkroom. Since I don’t know exactly how these marks will fall on the image, many of my plates don’t turn out.  But by having to work through the technical challenges, getting satisfying results becomes an act of faith. At a certain point one has to let go and allow accumulated experience and instinct to take over. Thus the process engages with other levels of thinking and acting in a manner that becomes a kind of transcendence. We all long for this I believe: some material evidence of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. MERIDIAN attempts to cross over into this territory.

chemical poem: of all the things

was a collaborative project undertaken for a student/professor exhibition, "Emerging and Emerged," at artWorks Gallery in the fall of 2016. It depicts an outdoor studio space set up by photo professor, Corinne Diop, in the courtyard of the photo facilities at Memorial Hall Art Complex, James Madison Univerity. The installation was arranged and rearranged during two sessions where the chemical poem was written and photographically recorded simultaneously, each word and image a response to the previously made plate. The actual images, tintypes on blackened metal, were created by photo professor, Rebecca Silberman, and photography senior, Rachel McCroddan in collodion, a 19th Century photographic process. These plates are direct positives and are prepared with the chemistry just before use. The narrow time frame required for working with collodion or wet plate process, as it is otherwise known, inspired the words, branded in the wet chemicals as the images were exposed and echo the photographically rendered residue of the accumulated then absent items:

 

of all the things

no thing

left

out (Xed out)

over (Xed out)

undone

 

These 6” x 4” originals were then scanned and printed onto metallic paper for the installation. The series is featured in the Human issue of Light Journal, a publication dedicated to photography and poetry. Our thanks to Nava Levenson for coming up with this exhibition idea; it has opened many doors for ongoing collaborative projects. 

 

The Metal Shed CoLab is an evolving collaborative of faculty, graduates, and undergraduates who work with photo-based processes. This incarnation of the CoLab is represented by Professor Corinne Diop, senior photography undergraduate, Rachel McCroddan and Professor Rebecca Silberman. The “Metal Shed” is an affectionate designation for the photography building (Memorial Hall Arts Complex) at James Madison University.

© 2019 Rebecca Silberman

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