Friday, August 26, 2011


I really like the writing of Michael Pollan in his book 'The Botany of Desire'. He describes 'the zone' of creative consciousness I've been pondering thus:

" What Nietzsche is describing is a kind of transcendence - a mental state of complete and utter absorption well known to artists, athletes, gamblers, musicians, dancers, soldiers in battle, mystics, meditators and the devout during prayer. Something very like it occurs during sex too, or while under the influence of certain drugs. It is a state that depends on losing oneself in the moment, usually by training a powerful depthless concentration on One Big Thing (or in the Eastern tradition, One Big Nothing)."                      

He also said " psychoactive plants are bridges between the world of matter and spirit, or, to update the vocabulary, chemistry and consciousness."

And this is complemented by another author Lorin Roche in 'Whole Body Meditations' who states 'There are times on the quest when what we need is the restful immersion in total darkness." He did not mean the darkroom, but it fits.

This is the appeal for me of the blackness in a photogram. In a world of overwhelming sensation, multiplicity and complexity; darkness is the antidote, the calm meditative space of emptiness to which I aspire. Emptiness is paradoxically also wholeness.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


So I've progressed the work for Impact a bit and got a branch printed, the next thing is to use these prints as 'negatives' and print through them to make the inverted image. I can do this so easily in Photoshop and post it here, as you see;

- but actually doing it in the darkroom requires long slow exposures and followed by a hard days slog over a chemical tray.  I find myself avoiding getting in there to do it. This has not been helped by the glorious spring sunshine, the vigour of growth in the vegie garden seems so much more urgent.

Much darkroom work is hard yakka.  It is a portal into a parallel world where  things are strangely different. White paper turns black and blackness is evidence of light.   You have to learn differently and in the darkroom, you do some things by feel. You get comfortable working this way and skilled over time. There is the thrill of seeing the print bloom in the developer bath, followed by the tedium of fixing and washing for hours and hours after what was originally a very short exposure time.

The work is always an interplay of constructive planning and chance.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


These prints have been difficult in their execution - wrangling large branches into the darkroom and leaving enough room to work is an achievement in itself. There are a few issues with the light lock since I re-clad the building and some fogging occurred across one print - a blow given how long the set up and processing took. No time to re-do it on that day.

The thing that takes the most time is the washing. Printing onto a thick fibre based paper means that the prints have to be washed for hours to remove all traces of the chemicals and ensure archival stability for the long haul. The colder the wash water the longer the time extends. In mid winter my hands ache from the work of constantly agitating and turning the prints to keep the water circulating. This all happens outside using water that is gravity fed from a bush dam a kilometre away - it would not be possible to wash with clean tank water, not only because you would quickly run out of supply but also because the water pump would burn out if it were made to work for consecutive hours.

Anyway - I had rationalised that I only had the resources to print one of the branches I 'sketched', but when it came to it I could not resist printing all three as they each had qualities I liked. It will be interesting to see where things go from here.