These relievo ambrotype images merge historical and contemporary practices by blending the 19th-century wet-plate collodion process with 21st-century digital imaging. The relievo ambrotype process is a 19th-century photographic technique that incorporates multiple layers of photographs to create a single image. The foundation of the process is collodion, a viscous liquid made by dissolving nitrated cotton in a mixture of alcohol and ether. I have blended foreground (collodion) and background (digital) images to investigate the relationship between the photograph and its referent (its subject) by exploring ways to both fix and release the photograph from the object it represents.
"Navigator," Relievo Ambrotype, 17" x 14", 2014
"Reckoning," Relievo Ambrotype, 8.5" x 6.5", 2013
"T-Rex," Relievo Ambrotype, 17" x 14", 2014
As a first-generation product of the digital age, my interests follow my upbringing in a bridged analog-digital culture. The advent of digital technologies has rapidly changed and challenged our notions of presentation and display, expanding the field of options and means for the rapid dissemination of visual ideas. But with these new technologies come new opportunities for a re-defined role of the cultural spectator. We are forced to become active participants – not only absorbing the imagery put before our eyes, but also consciously understanding how imagery is presented to us, and how its form alters our perception of what we’re witnessing. Where did the content originate? How was this version (re-) produced? How did the artist originally intend for work to be viewed?
Computer monitors are notoriously picky in terms of colors; printers and projectors are rarely profiled and calibrated. Yet these are the everyday objects digital citizens rely upon to show us the world. How can we trust what the computer presents as verifiable object – that pure red on my laptop in DC is the same as pure red on a desktop computer in Moscow? Looking back to analog imagery provides the same questions – does “red” in a 1950’s photographic test chart match “red” in a 1985 NTSC Video color chart? And are analog and digital forms of presentation that different, or is the difference akin to oil versus acrylic paint?
My recent investigations have been exploring these concepts in an attempt to differentiate creative visual content from presentation- (and material-) based mediation of visual information. Parallel to this line of investigation, I’m also fascinated with memory and its preservation for subsequent (re-) interpretation. How can memories be recorded, archived and shared? How do we mold our lives around “imperfect” memories, and how can we communicate our personal and private memories publicly with impersonal strangers? Vast physical archives of information have been transferred into digital systems, abandoning the object (and memory) for the virtual. But what remains of these original documents, and how does our initial newfound knowledge of this “outdated” form of information affect our search for uniqueness among the catalog of like objects?
From physical viewing surfaces and precise test charts to neglected scientific specimens and ambiguous memories, my work centers around the notions of presentation and interpretation. It’s about how we view imagery, and what understandings we take away from our individual viewing experiences.
"Dublin, OH," 2008
"Specimen 66," 2011
"Unknown Specimen," 2011
Affiliate Assistant Professor
I consider my work to be an investigation of the effects of memory. My images depict scenes of deeply embedded emotion, laying bare the fragmentation of the psyche. Layered images come together to tell a story as powerful as the memory that spurred them, as raw as the recollections that tear us apart. Some of my influences include painters such as Egon Schiele and Francis Bacon, filmmakers Murnau, Resnais, and Wong Kar-Wai, and the poet Gloria Anzaldua.
"Come Find Me," 40" x 32", 2014
"And His House is on Fire," 40" x 32", 2014
"The Memory of Stars," 40" x 32", 2014
Lawrence "Chip" Irvine
Visiting Assistant Professor
My photographs capture the life presence found in rocks, streams, urban streets, puddles, and other organic places, portraying an existence of figurative beings and dream realities found by closely observing the surfaces of the natural world.
Some of my photographs are simply observation, while other pieces are created by altering small environments, for example, placing a leaf into a puddle or fabricating a site-specific still life.
I am drawn to get close to my subject matter. In the attempt of capturing something that resembles a water nymph, for instance, I might get into the puddle, placing the camera’s lens one quarter of an inch away from the imagined creature, hoping it will enter the sensor. In working this way, I lose myself and then the photograph materializes.
From the technical side, I use a variety of image-making tools including cameras with interchangeable lenses and DSLRs. I also enjoy working with advanced digital point-and-shoot cameras because of their small, portable, and intimate feel, as well as their powerful macro capabilities. Also, I rely more on working with the time-of-day, and the camera’s point-of-view, over post processing and other computer-generated effects.
And finally, I print in a variety of sizes, including large-scale frame-less prints, on matte paper, that are mounted and varnished. The scale of the image, and luminosity created by the varnish, allows the photographs to glow and feel alive. The frame-less mounting makes them appear suspended on the studio or gallery wall.
"Drala", Archival Pigment Print, 17" x 22" Limited Edition: 1/10, 2017
"Fire King", Archival Pigment Print, Mounted on Sintra, 48" x 36" Limited Edition: 1/5. 2015
"Presence", Archival Pigment Print, Mounted on Sintra, 48" x 36" Limited Edition: 1/5. 2015