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.