A book I made as a test;

The cover looks a wee bit greener in real life.

Some of my photographic subjects (vandyke pics) piled to the side
Some cyanotypes – which are a headache to mount

Another. – Yup, the blue ones are taxidermied.

Vandykes of wee plastic animals.

Tempera print of a fishing lure.

And a gum print of a model tiger.

I made that as a test to see how people reacted to a particular set of ideas – and discovered that I’m on the right track, but with a few caveats – for one, people devalue regular binding, even hand made – probably because they can pick up something that looks (superficially – but who can see past that these days?) similar for a few dollars from a discount store.

Also how much hand can be visible, and what the aesthetics should look like – As a result I’ll go more towards something like this;

The spine looks like;

This was also a test, just using some ply I pulled out of a skip bin (dumpster) and some heavy glossy card stock I hadn’t found a use for yet – bound with linen thread.

The covers are ok, need a bit of sanding and some sort of treatment Shellac or wax/oil – the thread needs to be much thicker – perhaps embroidery thread, and I’ll probably move to using Hahnemuhle bamboo for the paper stock as it’s cheap, decent quality, and is conceptually in line with the recycled covers – final piece prolly won’t have ply covers, but we shall see..

I might be making some sketch books like this – prolly with laser etched covers. I feel a squirrel rampant coming on.

Past presentations.

Some of the meta themes I’ve worked with in the past.
Perhaps I didn’t state it clearly enough in the first essay, but What I find compelling about photography as an artistic medium is it’s facility as a storytelling medium. To me sketching is analogous to this sensibility, as such much of what I have looked at through the lens, as it were, of photography is the snippets of information, the traces which imply the presence of a greater narrative.

These traces are the basis of a fair chunk of my work to date, I seek out the traces that people leave behind in their daily lives and frame them in a manner which allows extrapolation from any viewer. Obviously I use a photographic vernacular in framing these images, composition, printing techniques, and presentation strategies which are of, or have been co-opted by photographic sensibilities.

When I first began to play with photography as a medium I began with pinhole imagery, speed of vision is something we are very much stuck with, to slow down or to speed up vision is very much the domain of photography, perhaps more-so than just seeking particular lighting.

I’m more interested in exploring things that re-present to me a reality which our senses cannot percieve. The hyper fast, the super slow, the spectrally invisible, these are all of a realm, which is to us, extrasensory, this fascinates me in that I am learning whilst making such images, to perceive the world at large in a different manner to that which my naked senses suggest.

In making use of these photographic and non-human visualities I have, of necessity, experimented extensively with the medium of photography at large, these experiments ranging from learning new printing methods, or the capabilities of different technical modalities (camera’s, lenses, etc), through to physically rebuilding (cheap) digital camera’s in such ways that their descriptive abilities no longer match a nominally human view point.

As I have gathered images, negatives, prints and digital files I have started to see themes which emerge, and which bend under the weight of their neighbors. The intertextual and the semiotic have developed interesting complexities within my archives, and this has fed back into long standing (considerably pre-dating my engagement with the photographic idiom) fascinations with linguistics, language, translation, language, and the persistence of archetypical presentations.

One thing which I have not worked with to any great degree yet (and do not intend to start with now) is photographing people, this is due to the fact that I am intensely aware that to frame something in a photograph is to speak for it, to re-present the thing in a nuanced manner. When I am doing this with a trace that a person has left I am comfortable, because I am not challenging a pre-existing narrative, I am not speaking over something attempting to speak for itself.

However I am aware that when I frame a person photographically, then I speak for them in a manner which is authoritative. This, in and of itself, is not problematic, it is, after all the point of having a photographer at a wedding – however I do not personally seek to make stories of people, nor to have people act out stories for the camera. This aspect of re-presentation is something which I am intensely aware of and is something which I am looking to work more deliberately with at this point.

Lumens – Dmax?

I’ve been playing with lumen printing for a couple of years now, and have often wondered if there is a way to increase the dmax so as I could get darker darks in the image. A few times I’ve tried painting different chemicals onto bits of photo paper and exposing them to see what happens, generally without much success, table salt makes for a cooler colour, but only a slight increase in the dmax, ammonia creates an unreliable and slight dmax increase, with cooler colours and so on.

This sort of thing – from memory the bottom center was dipped in a table salt solution – which only partially reacted causing the cooler grey bits at the edges – the bottom right was dipped in ammonia (cleaning product grade). So generally I haven’t seen much of a result. (All of the photo’s in this post have been fixed, washed and dried.)

So the other day with nothing much better to do I tried out the chemistry I had at hand, mainly testing a paper (velox – above and below) rather than the chemistry itself – I also had selenium at hand, so I painted “Se” on a piece with a brush dipped in it and put them out in the sun. This gives a bit more of a reaction, but still slight in general. The chemicals I did this with were cleaning grade cloudy ammonia, Potassium dichromate at approx %5, KRST Selenium toner, and household bleach (something hypochlorite?)

And it would seem that the selenium responds to this – rather intensely! The other 3 reacted immediately, mainly cos of the water, but over 2-3 hours they levelled out again as the water evaporated – the bleach reduced dmax substantially (which is in itself pretty interesting). But the selenium reacted far far slower than the others and kept gaining density long after the others had hit their dmax. The others showed a couple of spots of reaction, but really, the image above speaks for itself.

So I figured that one of three things was happening – the first possibility being that the thiosulphate in the KRST was grabbing the silver and converting it to something that was still light sensitive, this didn’t make sense really, but was possible – The second was as above but the selenium was converting this secondary substance into something else – this was, and still is a reasonable assumption – the third option was that the hypochlorite wasn’t doing anything positive and it was purely a reaction between silver halides, selenium salts, and the sun, thus forming silver selenide by oxidation (there might be other options – but I’m no chemist, and even less of a physicist).

So my next step was to coat some sheets of RC photo paper with selenium in different ways – I did the following;

Soaked a sheet of paper in strong 1;3 selenium and let it drip dry (these had no subsequent light reaction).

Soaked a sheet of paper in weak 1;30 selenium and let it drip dry (these had no subsequent light reaction).

Soaked a sheet of paper in strong 1;3 selenium (these had no subsequent light reaction).

Soaked a sheet of paper in weak 1;30 selenium (these had no subsequent light reaction).

This proves well enough that the fix in KRST actually acts as fix, and thus the light sensitive halides were eliminated into the krst solution.

I also painted fix onto a couple of bits and let it dry in place, thus ensuring that the dissolved halides stayed on the papers surface – this was subsequently completely insensitive to light – which proves fairly safely that fix not only removes silver, but forms a compound which is insensitive to light, which eliminated any chance that the fix was acting as the agent (alone anyhow).

Lastly (well, first actually, but I’m getting the total failures out of the way first) I painted a liberal amount of 1;3 KRST onto another couple of sheets and allowed them to dry, these were the only successes – A sheet that was exposed to the sun went a dark grey/black which remained after fixing.

I then put a sheet into a contact printer with a waxed paper neg and exposed that to blue sky through a window, but not to direct sunlight, the result of 3 hr’s printing looked like this;

Not pretty by any stretch, but still extremely interesting – For an obvious start I should have used a regular neg, or exposed it to direct sunlight for the extra push – I can still get an idea from this, so that’s ok. The places where the solution pooled turned out bleached, which tells me that I was far too heavy handed with the selenium – this is reinforced by the fact that the places where I barely touched have achieved nearly full density, and the places i painted heavily are bleached back (pale). Looking closely at the border is interesting too;

This shows the range, from the very nearly black section where I just whisked the brush over the surface, through the faded area’s where I painted more heavily, to the fully bleached parts where the solution pooled – it would seem that the key to getting full darks is to only apply a very light coating of selenium.

This is reinforced by looking at the other side of the print, the brush marks there were so light that i didn’t spot them as I was coating the paper.

All in all a pretty interesting experiment – probably amongst the ugliest stuff I’ve posted here 😀 but I have a feeling that this has some very real potential if i tweak it a bit… Ok, a lot 😛 but I’m seeing something here that I haven’t seen before, it’s definitely worth looking closer.

For my next step I’m going to coat some fiber based paper very lightly with Se (1:3 and 1:30) and let it dry in darkness, then I’ll expose it in full sun under a proper negative – the fiber paper is cos the RC is waterproof and thus both repelled the solution, and refused to dry evenly – Plus I have an inkling that a nice print might turn up soon – I also need to try selenium toning after fixing as well (as opposed to selenium sensitising pre-exposure).

Collections, Plastic Heitiki

I picked up a purple transparent Heitiki in a $2 store in K Road in 2008, since that time I’ve used it as the basis of a series of works, which have strangely turned into a fully blown project for this year (more another time).

I started making gum bichromate prints in 2008, I used a scan of the tiki as an image source, sadly I didn’t photograph the series that sold at that time (in private collections), but I’ve continued to work with the imagery.

The dark grey print is gum bichromate, circa 2008, the two orangey prints are lumen prints from the same negative (regular photo paper used as POP ), and the black print is a silver (fiber) print from a waxed paper neg – it’s actually far darker than that, but I can’t get my scanner or printer to see the detail without spreading the contrast substantially. The blue print is a cyanotype which had the tiki placed on it in the sun, and the purplish one is a lumen print by the same technique.

The final two (bright green & purple) I describe below – it won’t let me separate stuff out from the gallery – poor effort that!

The following is a digital separation for a spraypaint stencil, I’m also working on some 3 and 4 colour gum prints atm.

I often use one image for testing things, this is a particular favourite of mine for playing with alt processes with – I like it at a conceptual level too.

The original;

Linocut printing – the bodgy way.

This isn’t a post about how to print linocut, it’s how I do it.

I’ll post some stuff about cutting linocuts in the next while, therefore it’ll be further up the page, makes sense no?

I design my stuff by hand generally, not cos it’s better or worse, but cos it makes me happy to make stuff with my hands, this following pic is one of the techniques that I haven’t seen anybody else using for some reason, it’s quite viable though, it’s using a dry erase marker and Q-Tips (they call them cotton buds here), on acetate (oht sheets).

I use white board markers a lot personally, i think they’re neat, and they’re easier and cheaper to use and clean up than permanent markers (handy for making notes on windows too).here the frame is drawn in on the other side of the sheet with a vivid (permanent marker) and then I’ve just drawn and re-drawn till I have something I like – white board marker draws black, Q-Tip draws white.

I do sorta plan stuff sometimes, here’s the page from a sketchbook where i was thinking about the images.

It doesn’t look much like the above does it, not that that matters, cos I transferred the design by hand anyhow, so it changed again when I cut it. That was really an aside, but i had the photos handy, I’ll go over design again when i ramble about cutting lino, to come.

Now assuming we have a cut lino block, I’ve been using stuff that’s not mounted on a block, I’ll be switching to type high some time soon for reasons of convenience when registering (got to make the dies and tools first).

Now, inking – again, I’ll actually make a whole post on this topic, so I won’t go into it here, that might sound odd, but the inking is probably the single most important part of getting a good print, which I don’t have here as I was being all slapdash about it.

This is kinda funny cos it’s so bad, I was proofing at the time, the ink isn’t rolled out properly, and the print is weak, but this is enough for me to see what to do as I’m cutting a block – the cutting tool is the red thing to the upper left, I use a draw blade in it, either that or a No15 surgical scalpel, at this point I’m using oil based ink for proofing (I used water based for the final prints), the oil stays liquid longer, thus meaning that I don’t have to clean the block and wait to keep cutting – this is a very messy process for me, but then, I was raised by wolves, so what can you expect.

The roller is a cheap hard one, which is ideal for this medium, the ink only stays on the raised parts, a soft roller it goes over the edges. At this point I’m actually printing into a sketchbook bar a few tests (as above). You can see something of the iteration of a design here;

oily ink smudges, worn out black nail polish, and terrible handwriting, raised by wolves, remember? This design didn’t really work so well, and I’m stll only semi-happy with it. So anyhow – getting a print onto paper – what this post is supposedly about, cos it’s not about anything to date;

The board thingee that I’ve taped my bit of paper for layout to is actually a bookbinding tool, it’s just a really convenient size and shape for this task. It’s a bookbinding press for binding perfect (glue) bound books – the bottom bar lines stuff up, and the side bar clamps the book to be bound in place, anyhow I digress.

On the paper I’ve drawn the outline of the sheet of paper and then taped a piece of lino in so that it’s edge lines up with the fold in the paper (convenient measurement, no?) –  The lino provides the height to line stuff up accurately, when it’s lined up I press the paper down onto the inked lino block you can see there, and pop a wooden block lined with felt on top;

Like so – the bottom side is lined with the felt – then;

I stomp on it, bounce up and down, move my foot about, and generally carry on like a muppet till I’m quite assured that it’s the ink has stuck nicely to the paper – if proofing this tends to be enough, otherwise I use a burnisher.

Ok, so it’s a plastic imitation bone paper folding tool, but it’s the intent than counts, plus this is actually easier to use than any other burnisher I can afford (I found it in the street).

After that I remove the paper from the block and i have a print – sadly all I have to show for my troubles here is one of the test prints;

this is one place that being somewhat dyslexic is actually a boon, I can read and write at backwards (mirrored) a considerable fraction of the speed that I can write and read normally, thus writing stuff mirrored is no big deal to me.

Rolling out the ink, inking the block, pressing it to the paper (burnishing), and the removal of the paper from the block are the central skills here, burnishing probably being the easiest and least important (it’s terribly important, but if you don’t get how to remove the paper you’ll never get a good print – there are machines for pressing, not for rolling out ink or removing the finished print).

Slightly better print, but still pretty crap really – I decided on my last project to let the quality go and let the faults in iteration be part of the work, doesn’t look so good when i’m trying to explain why, oh well.