Our world is immersed in light, but its physical essence is chemical. Digital photographic processes can record that illumination, but they cannot touch the wet, chemical essence which makes up life. The images in “Reversing Photosynthesis”, were made photographically without the direct interaction of light.
Leaves absorb sunlight and convert it to sugars which they store in their structures. Removed from plants and trees, these leaves began a slow process of death. They were placed in direct contact with light sensitive photographic paper and left in total darkness for days to months to document this change. As they broke down, their stored light would slowly leak out to expose the paper and form images. This paper was then developed like traditional chemical prints.
Life is not a simple, binary process like an on or off switch. It is not something that you simply have and can hold on to. It continually flows through you, in and out – until you reach the number of your days. And then it leaks back into the world from where it came. We absorb life and exude life. Like a photograph, we too are materially constructed from light made tangible and solid.
For over a decade, my work has used constructed and often anachronistic imagery to create alleged historical artifacts that examine our belief in the photograph as impartial witness. Although some elements in that work depict real objects, many have never had a tangible physical existence – they are three-dimensionally modeled completely inside the world of a computer. They are ghosts made of nothing more substantial than numbers.
This new series represents a return to my roots and to those of photography. While I continue to construct many of my images, these works are a new direction; one that reflects both my own aging process and mortality. For me, this is a shift from the virtual to the tangible as perhaps a way to hang onto the fleeting substance of life.