Recently, I had an opportunity to reprint a series of photographs I made when the Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau spoke to the students at Point Grey Secondary School in Vancouver on 19 May 1974. It was easy to mark the day because it was the day after Operation Smiling Buddha, India’s first nuclear weapons explosion. In his address to the students, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau shared his thoughts about the global impact of this nuclear test and affirmed Canada’s commitment to Peace Keeping.
At the time of Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit, I was a new Canadian who had just signed a continuing contract with the Vancouver School Board. It was a new beginning for me in a chaotic time, and Canada offered both opportunity and a sense of social order. As well, I could not only afford an SLR camera but also my own darkroom equipment. The Prime Minister’s visit to Point Grey, along with a press entourage, was probably my first event photo-shoot. I had no experience working with all the lighting added by myriad photographers and videographers, but perhaps you will find that part of the honesty characteristic of 1970s artwork. Jay Currie, President of the Student Council, and son of G.B. Currie, Chairman of MacMillan Bloedel, introduced the Prime Minister to the student body and staff.
Mobile phones have become a notebook of sorts; they store images and fragmented memories, keep a phone call and text log, store data, track appointments and whole lot more. For a photographer, the fully loaded mobile phone is the notebook I’ve been waiting for. I can use it standing up, lying back or hunkering down without awkwardly searching for something to write with when the visual thought is in front or behind me, just about to disappear as the train is leaving the station. With a little planning, I have access to tools to work on stored images and maybe even prepare them for publication. I’m not much of a speech to text person, but I can dictate thoughts that take the shape of words or keep those words as a soundtrack. This is not to say that it replaces the coil bound artist notebook that is central to my artist practice; I have three crates of artist notebooks, and there’s no sign that that habit of visual journaling will be replaced by my mobile phone. But finally, there’s a notebook for photographers.
From time to time, I sing the praises of Aline Smithson, creator, editor and publisher of Lenscratch, photographer, writer and teacher. I read her blog daily, and it fuels my artist practice on many levels. I appreciate her seasonal calls for submissions to her theme-based blog exhibitions and look forward to visual content and editing/curating, offering a reading of these juxtaposed images that adds up to way more than the sum of the parts. A recent LENSCRATCH blog featured five pages of cellphone photography and included one of my cellphone photographs. Set among other cellphone photographs, I read my work in a new way.
Scrolling through LENSCRATCH 2015 Cellphone Exhibition, this blog emerged, and writing about my own work is always more laboured than this one. It was an inspirational series of images that illustrates how versatile the cellphone and cellphone camera can be. I am one of many who believe that technology and the economics of the cellphone camera have democratized photography, making cellphone photography a genre in its own right. While I began celebrating the notebooking opportunities of the cellphone, I end with a statement about the potential of the cellphone to make photography both immediate and contemplative, complex and spontaneous. View my Screenshot in isolation in this blog, but also view it in the context of the Lenscratch 2015 Cellphone Exhibition.
PhotoHaus Gallery has selected three of my mobile phone images for Mobilography 2013, Opening Night is Friday, 26 July/ 7pm [lane entrance]. The show is up until 17 August.
PhotoHaus Gallery (14 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver). Check website for details about gallery hours. http://photohausgallery.com/coming-soon/mobileography-2013-open-call-for-submissions/
Mobilography is a quickly grown photographic genre, and mobile device cameras have pretty much replaced the point-and-shoot. The cameras in these little devices take better and better photographs. With all the apps available, they make road-side photo processing possible. The photos selected by the Mobilography3 jury show the diversity in my mobile photography practice. While I use my iPhone as a visual notebook, its handiness makes it possible to freeze the fleeting moment. As well, I take advantage of stationary, transitional moments to process and edit these spontaneous moments.
Please take a moment check out new gallery pages on my website at http://sassamatt.com. And while you’re at it: like Sassamatt Images on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/SassamattImages) and follow me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/queenofmidnight).
Backyard Pinhole (2005)
Enjoy a vast on-line exhibition about the backyard in Backyard Exhibition curated by Aline Smithson, editor of LENS/CRATCH. At the end Part 1, you’ll find my Backyard Pinhole; further down toward the end of Part 5, you’ll find Sassamatt photographer Edward Peck’s night shot of the same backyard. In between are many kindred photographs interpreting the backyard.
Backyard Exhibition juxtaposes images in a visual dialogue that add another dimension to the individual works. This on-line, global exhibition opportunity makes the work available 24/7. Exhibiting outside the gallery walls and in a softly curated show invites more viewers into art situation and builds community. This exhibition prompts some discussion about creative exhibition venues. Frequently Aline Smithson puts out a call for thematic work that she publishes on her daily LENS/CRATCH photography blog.
Winter: a season to dream about what will take flight this spring. Keep warm.
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And, if you are at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre before 18 February 2013, check out my photographs showing in the Mezzanine Gallery and my sculptures on the top floor. Let me know what you think.
Lumen liths are a hybrid variant of lumen prints. Made by a contact printing process using organic materials that leave traces and shadows on photosensitive surfaces. In this process, the photosensitive surface is sheet film of varying ages, types and sizes. Once processed, these transparencies can be projected or scanned.
The scanner has several settings that can transform the imagery on the negative. Once scanned as JPG or TIFF, all sorts of digital magic is possible. The images showing at Argyle Fine Arts in Halifax are a series of five such images (http://www.behance.net/sassamatt). For the past six weeks, I have been an ArtsStarts artist-in-residence at Kitsilano High School demonstrating my lumen printing techniques and guiding students through the process of making their own lumen prints.
Using aged 8×10 sheet film, I have made a series of four lumen liths that have been transformed into various digital iterations. This is a new direction that goes beyond the unique photograms of Anna Atkins and Jerry Burchfield forges a new hybrid form of photo-printmaking. http://sassamatt.com/sass/lumenprints/index.html
Lumen Prints are made from organic materials gathered from the kitchen, the garden and Vancouver beaches. These prints are made by a contact printing process using organic materials that leave traces and shadows on photosensitive surfaces. These materials leave x-ray like marks of both their shapes and interiors. Plant enzymes and atmospheric conditions also interact with the surface of the paper to produce unexpected results.
Lumen prints are unique photograms made without a camera or darkroom enlarger, a process first used by botanists such as Anna Atkins and William Fox Talbot in the early 1800s. Jerry Burchfield explored the potential of this contact print process by placing Amazon Rain Forest plant specimens on fibre-based gelatine-silver paper, exposing the prints to sunlight, and fixing the prints with sodium thiosulfate (photographic fixer); he called these prints Lumen Prints.
Bladderwrack and Rainwater (2010)
Spanish Banks Impressions is a series of Lumen prints made from organic materials gathered from Vancouver’s Spanish Banks seashore. Each month, seaweed and other seashore materials (sand, beach debris, crushed sea shells) were gathered to make prints. As the seasons changed, so did these prints until each beach walk became a narrative about both the seashore and an abstraction of the seasonal yield.
Leeks, Sprouts and Rainwater (2009)
Botanical Traces is an on-going series of Lumen Prints that are digital prints made from handmade negatives using a lumen print process. Organic materials are placed on sheet film, exposed to light, and processed with fixer to preserve the image. The materials used to makes these photograms are included in the titles.
Whereas Burchfield’s work is about the ephemeral quality of light, my work was about the direct transmission of data from the subject to the photosensitive paper without the use of a camera or enlarger. It is about the intensity of the marks made on photosensitive paper, an investigation of the chemistry activated by light. In a larger sense, my work is an inquiry into the nature of permanence and impermanence. It asks, “What remains?”
more lumen prints ~ http://sassamatt.com/sass/lumenprints/index.html