News from the dark…

Proof of Concept, a photographic exhibition

It’s been a little while since I’ve made any posts, so I thought I’d make a new start, and the easiest way to begin, is with yourself!

Back in late 2020 my local gallery (Gallery 33) in Laguna, asked me to consider hosting an exhibition between April – June 21′. Well I had no excuse not to have one. I’ve printed more than hundred or so exhibitions over thirty two years, yet none off my own. And I thought, how odd? And I had no prints to hang. But over the past few years I had been experimenting with composite printing by using multiple negatives and positives to create photograms and the like. So I decided this would be my way forward.

Exhibition flyer

The Roots

I named the exhibition “Proof of Concept”, as the plan was to create a print from thin air, so to speak. I intentionally had no pre-conceived ideas until the morning of printing. A new print or the roots of one would be made each day, for four weeks. Each print was a proof of concept, the techniques were mostly purely hypothetical and I would be learning on the job. What FUN! What torment too of course… So every day I would look at the light box, pull some negs and then consider the printing process. What would look best, the Lith process or Liquid Emulsion? How about Toning or Solarisation, or both? And so it went until it was near 11 am. But what was so exciting was the fact these would be MY prints and I could try what ever I fancied.

The Process

Over the next several months until March, I photographed many insects, and created positives from the negatives. Sandwiching these, I would contact onto line film, thus creating inverted negative / positives. These would be laid onto top of the paper during the printing process as my subject images.

Next step was the background images. From my various sky and cloud negatives I made another series of neg / pos / inverted negatives. These negatives where then enlarged onto the paper as the background image, then the subject negatives were laid on top of the paper.

My last step was making the photogram. I used fresh and dried plant material from the garden and these were laid on top of the paper and subject negatives. Some of the insects and other small creatures were also added to the print.

The Prints

I have, or had a pretty decent stock of old or discontinued papers, dating back to the 80’s (1980’s!), so I had plenty of options. Some where the Foma Graded stocks on various surfaces and some were original Lith papers. I also made a few print developers from scratch and had a good selection of Lith dev’s too. I knew I had to make some L.E. prints and also at least one mural. The L.E. probably took the longest to prep with many days required for curing. Many of the prints were made with the intention of contact printing to create an inverted print.

In the end, sixteen prints made it onto the walls and only six came home. Below are some of my dodgy phone pics.

Chris Reid

Laguna. NSW

And that be all….