ArtSpace 106, Burlington, Vermont. September, 2015 - May, 2016.
The photographs in this exhibition are fragments, extracted from a storied city and its vibrant and expansive culture. I had the great fortune of spending two weeks in Havana in January of 2015. I was particularly drawn to the streets of Central Havana, with its crumbling layers of history and the boisterous rhythms of people, music, songbirds, and pre-Revolution car engines. I felt welcomed by the Cubans I encountered and was graciously received in the dense neighborhoods and mazes of apartments, alleys and courtyards.
All of the images were captured on black-and-white film, of varying speeds, and lith-printed in the darkroom in limited batches. Lith printing is an alternative development technique that causes an explosion of the image grain and a shift in color toward warm brown tones. It is a difficult process to control and the best lith papers are no longer manufactured. For this exhibition, I used most of my cherished stock of Forte Polywarmtone paper, last made in Hungary nearly 10 years ago.
11x14 inch, one-of-a-kind signed archival prints are available for sale, matted and framed.
This project began as playful inquiry. With analog photography, a fingerprint on one’s negative is something to be avoided. I decided instead to embrace what is generally a mistake and make it the subject. Enlarged, fingerprints may be experienced aesthetically. Friction ridge patterns of skin are transformed into a labyrinthine swirl of interlocking avenues or concentric circles. Mysterious spaces, changes of direction and even tiny dots emerge.
The human finger is stamped with a unique identifier—one that speaks irrevocably of its owner. Yet disconnected from identity, its graphic impression may represent anyone’s finger. What can we understand of an individual by their fingerprint alone? Can we know that finger’s race, gender or age?
While there is anonymity in these enlargements of fingerprints, other clues of their owners are revealed. Wounds and scars visibly alter the original patterns. Years of hard use may wear down the defining ridges into barely discernable configurations of minute blobs.
These images were produced completely through darkroom chemical process, and without a camera. Each fingerprint was chemically removed from the silver emulsion of black and white film—which was then processed into negatives. The resulting enlargements were bleached lightly and then toned in selenium. Each print was hand made and is archival.
These images were produced with a $25 plastic, medium format camera, the Holga--made in China. It is known for its quirky, low tech charms: wide angle, focus fall-off, dark vignetting, and light leaks. All of these silver gelatin images are printed full-frame on Ilford's Multigrade Warmtone paper, 8x9 inches.
Moon and Jupiter
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Havana, Cuba, 2015
Old Gold, Burlington, Vermont
Central Park, NYC
Windows, Burlington, Vermont
Bridge Double Exposure
The Flynn, Burlington, Vermont
Nest of Vines
Bread and Puppet Museum, Glover, Vermont
Iona and the Sunglasses
“Photographs are perhaps the most mysterious of all the objects that make up, and thicken, the environment we recognize as modern.” --Susan Sontag
All of my images are photographs of photographs collected. The subjects and, in most cases, the original photographers are anonymous. I have lived with these curious artifacts, and marvel at the immediacy that their surfaces present—each face forever stilled—and at the enigmas of context that swim underneath. In reprinting these portraits, it is my hope that these people who have long ago passed may be awakened and remembered; that the dance that they accepted with the future may take another turn; and that the flickering fragilities of these antique documents may speak to our present day humanity.
I create my own negatives by re-photographing the original photographs—prints or plates that reveal cracks, bubbles, dirt, and folds. To make my prints, I hand apply silver gelatin photographic emulsion onto 100% cotton watercolor paper, and then expose the new images in the darkroom. Each print is unique, with varying edges, brushstrokes and densities of emulsion.
The 11x14 inch archival prints are toned in sepia.
1940's Boy with Car, 2006
The Pendant, 1880's
Partners, from a circa 1870's tintype
Japanese Girl with Kewpie Doll, circa 1930's
Tub Shower, from an 1890's stereoscopic card
Civil War Era Tintype
Lith Printing is an alternative darkroom technique, whereby silver gelatin black-and-white images undergo a process called infectious development. Highlights remain soft and bright, shadows become cold and hard, and the mid-tones grow grainy and warm in color. The color shift is rendered through the development process, not from post-printing toning, and can be quite variable.
All of these images are of items found: as garbage, at yard sales and in junk shops. They are silver gelatin lith prints. Most were exhibited at Burlington, Vermont's Gallery 215, in November of 2008, as 16x20 inch prints.
Photographs exist mainly as single frames, within an imposed rectangular boundary. Each frame is both a fragment and a whole. What exists within that defining space becomes a world unto itself, forever detached from its surroundings. Photographs on film are divided by frame lines and ordered in chronological sequence. A contact sheet reveals the negatives as a page of positives—the film’s progression in strips of five or six images.
Much of what the photographer grapples with is containment—how do we inject the single frame with enough energy to give it voice, to speak aesthetically and/or narratively? What elements must align for the photograph to achieve maximum expression within that selected moment?
Can we interpret several moments simultaneously?
For these Triptychs, I created an enlarging format that allots for three 35mm film frames to be printed together within the format of two frames. A central image is flanked by two partial frames. Their chronology is intact as the three shots are from contiguous negatives, in their original sequence. The single frame is extended into a larger time signature as the successive images reflect a multiplicity of moments: a whole—bound within its rectangular capsule, and fragments of the before and after.
All of the Triptychs were determined by fate, as the shots were not photographed with sequential printing in mind. The connections are accidental. As I scrutinized thousands of images on contact sheets, only eighteen suitable trios emerged. My criterion was that an aesthetic (and possibly a contextual) relationship would be generated between the often disparate neighboring images—that the pieces coalesce into a larger whole. The dividing frame lines transform into connecting lines, junctures where frames interact. Orientation may shift from horizontal to vertical and subject matter may be closely related or vary widely.
The Triptychs were exhibited in Burlington, Vermont's Gallery 215 as "Silver Hallides" in April, 2009. The silver gelatin prints are toned in selenium, and are 8x20 inches in size.
In February of 2017, my younger brother died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 48. “Of Gavin” is an examination of my brother’s life, seen through the filter of his possessions–many of which came from our childhood, in the 1970’s and 80’s in New York.
All of the images were shot on black-and-white film, and were printed with two different darkroom techniques. Most were lith printed, a development process that explodes the grain of the photo paper and shifts the tones, usually toward a warm brown. The lith-printed images are an objective study of objects, isolated against a white background. With the other printing technique, I addressed Gavin’s collection of matchbox cars and trading cards. These prints are the result of hand-applying silver gelatin emulsion onto Arches watercolor paper, and were toned in sepia. Each print, of both techniques, is unique.