Friday, January 30, 2009
My roofless dream cottage next to the sea in Peng Chau, for a forthcoming book
When most people move to the bottom half of the world, their litany of concerns goes something like this: how will we get the furniture there, what car shall we buy, what x-rays/shots will I need, where will the kids go to school, etc. Mine center on how to work in a new environment.
How strong is the sunlight? (Sydney has strong UV and lots of sunshine - one reason I was interested in moving here)
What's there to shoot or sketch?
How important are the arts in its residents' priorities?
But a crucial question for many alt-process artists like me is: where's a printshop to make negatives? (see picture below - none of this happens without large-scale negatives)
Hand-tinted blueprint demo from the book
It's a rare print shop that's willing to risk its overheated machines and run my plastic transparencies through them. So far I've spoken with a dozen places in my neighborhood and in central Sydney, but haven't found anywhere that can make a successful print; the rare printers willing to try just shake their heads as my acetates jam their machines.
So with some deadlines looming this week, I've crossed my fingers and printed dozens of images from paper negatives, as architects used to do with their drawings. I've printed these images over and over, for different exposure times, at different chemical concentrations, onto various surfaces. Tracked blue footprints down our newly-carpeted hallway. Spattered the bathroom with cyan rinsewater. I'd hoped that with some tweaking I could get something beautifully blue.
Nope. Not a single image was serviceable, let alone satisfying. The paper simply blocked too much sun, so the prints had very little contrast. Instead, I've had to focus on other endeavors before I leave for Asia.
Still these attempts have gotten me out of my new neighborhood comfort zone: I've shot a new series and will print it - somehow - when I'm back later this year.
There's always a reason for whatever we're doing, sometimes we've just got to make it up as we go along.