Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Processed world

For the NW Reviews, I made C-prints in U-Develop's color darkroom. The choice to use a darkroom instead of printing digitally probably made things harder on myself. Instead of printing in the comfort of my own home I had to live out of my car for a week while spending my daylight hours immersed in pitch black. Also, I hadn't much experience in a color darkroom. Up until last week I'd spent all of about 3 hours printing color. But I got up to speed quickly, and at the end of the week I was glad I'd chosen to make C-prints. The richness and separation of the colors was really spectacular. I think it would be very difficult to get similar prints from an ink jet printer.

Beyond that, there was something deeply satisfying about using an old analogue process which circumvented the computer. It felt more like craftsmanship, like making jewelry or gardening, like part of me had been invested into each print. I think that C-prints will become rarer and rarer. U-Develop is the only rental color darkroom that I know of, perhaps the only one on the west coast, and so making C-prints has become a relatively scarce craft. At the reviews, I believe there were only two of us (out of 80) showing color C-prints.

At the end of the week I laid all of the prints I'd made across all the tables at U-Develop and I asked George and Faulkner, who were there printing, which ones they liked. George tore up small pieces of metallic paper to place on top of their least favorites. Luckily none of the least favorites turned out being one that I really liked. As a thank you I gave George and Faulkner their choice of prints from my pile of extra 16 x 20s. These were prints in which either the color, timing, or easel blades were off. Some of them were very nice, just barely off. Some were far worse, unshowable, with light streaks from an enlarger bulb gone haywire.

George chose an image of an orange fence going back into some woods. Faulkner's choice surprised me at first, but the more I thought about it the more sense it made. He chose an image of two fences facing each other across a road. The print had a huge red streak from a light leak across the left half of the photo. It had narrowly escaped the garbage bin, and I'd kept it in the pile as an afterthought. It turned out to be Faulkner's favorite. To him a photograph is as much about the process of photography as about the image. The fact that the print had a streak told him something about me making it.

One time I was at Faulkner's house to look at his work. He'd made some prints from a roll of film his dad had shot in Mexico. The camera was laying around a while and some ants had found their way into it, and they'd walked across the film as some of the exposures were made. The photographs were absolutely freaky. They were normal backyard snapshots, but with giant ants attacking from the corners. Most people would probably throw that film away but not Faulkner. He made 16 x 20s so that the ants could grow even bigger. The prints were fantastic. Another series of prints was from some 35 roll film that he'd run through a medium format camera. The images bled all through the roll to the edges where they were regularly pockmarked by the film's sprocket holes. What the? To him it's about the process, and about staying open to possibilities anywhere along the creative chain.

2 comments:

China Plate said...

l'd love to see one of Faulkenr's ant prints, sounds fascinating

Dating said...

The fact that the print had a streak told him something about me making it.