The "chemigram" is an alternative, camera-less photographic process that uses a wax (or similar) resist on photosensitized silver gelatin paper. After the paper has been exposed to light, the artist applies a resist to its surface. The resist can be drawn, poured, dripped, or sprayed; methods that all produce varying results. Once the resist has hardened, the paper is then put through alternating baths of diluted developer and fixer, which are common darkroom chemicals. As the resist washes away, and more of the paper is exposed, the light and chemistry combine to build a wide range of organic and unique forms on the paper's surface.
This process offers an incredible amount of experimentation, and encourages an organic and intuitive approach to photographic art-making. In an art that, by and large, heavily relies on recognizable images, the chemigram can free the artist from the bounds of traditional photography and the mimetic imagery it is seemingly tied to. The prints produced through this process are not only unique, but are acts of pure and original creation by the artist.
Still, the chemigram print brings into question the material of photographic processes. Unlike sculpture, in which the material of the piece is clearly defined by what it is made out of, photography's materiality is harder to express. Material and materiality references the substance of something, literally the matter it is comprised of. In art, materiality alludes to art that is created to accentuate or emphasize its material. Within photography, this concept becomes confusing. What is the material of a photograph, the paper an image is printed onto, the camera used to record the image, or the image itself? While an argument could be made for any of these options, a more succinct answer is light. As the chemigram so elegantly demonstrates, light is the impressive and powerful material of photography.
Inspired by the mechanical beauty of the photographic process, I was overcome with a fierce desire to create photographic art that would celebrate light as a substance, rather than as a vessel. Far-removed from the expected imagery associated with photography, the resulting series examines the possibilities of creation with light, and addresses the elusive question of photography's materiality.