In 2007 and 2008 I undertook a photographic exploration of time and light, traveling to Kitt Peak in Arizona to photograph outer space. With the help of planetary scientists, I captured pictures of distant galaxies on a digital sensor attached to a Meade solar telescope. After shooting, I returned to the traditional darkroom for a series of what I term “experiments”.
The darkroom process begins by making a physical negative from the digitally captured astro-images, by embodying light as material form. I follow the principles of traditional color darkroom printing, a subtractive color system, using cyan, magenta, and yellow filters to remove various colors of light from the negative. Half of the picture is in the negative, and the other half is in the positive. The two halves can never be united in one picture.
I draw on both negative and positive with various chemicals. I make contact prints that render the negative’s colors in reverse, and expose the light from the enlarger to various filters and gels. There is a bizarre dislocation that occurs where I wonder, what makes these photographs different from those in “Sky & Telescope” magazine? The answer lies in the way they have been manipulated, the way the pixels become grain that becomes physical dots of color on paper. I’m going back to basics, back to the sheer joy of playing with color and line on paper, of drawing with light. This project re-engages with one of the simplest and most basic purposes of photography: to show us what we would otherwise remain unseen. I’m using science & technology to show my particular romantic view of the medium of photography, where the failure and power of the medium cohere in material form.