Alternative Processes and Concept and Temporality and...

From: Steve Bell ^lt;>
Date: 03/09/04-11:47:18 AM Z
Message-id: <>

Hey Everyone,

time has come again for me to rear my reclusive head, for a question that's
been bouncing around in it lately. i've been thinking about those of us who use
alternative processes, some much more dedicated than others. none the less, i'm
curious as to why people do this. i mean, obviously there are aesthetic
reasons, and i feel like that is probably the most prominent reason, but i
think there's more to it.

in fact, i think it was Jack Brubaker that mentioned something about hand
crafted products, and their appeal, which i think touches on what i think hooks
people. in fact, i think some of it has to do with the idea of authenticity,
and even further than that, temporality (modernity, postmodernity too, but i'm
going to try to avoid these arguments. it seems no one wants to talk about that
stuff.) but if you think about it, alternative processes really talk about
craftsmanship. being an artisan and a craftsperson. these aspects of our
culture are almost, if not completely, gone. what we have now is mass
production, impersonal products that are intended to define us as individuals.
a lot of the commodity critic artists of the late 80's thru the 90's to today
have criticized these parts of our culture (even andy warhol did with his
brillo boxes. he was talking about art too, but also commodity, mass
production, mass culture). and if we think about space, and the authenticity of
space, that authenticity is certainly fading away as architecture becomes more
about being a totalizing experience than something that responds to and
compliments its environment.

so in this world that is becoming more and more produced and less and less
creative, authentic, crafted, i see people like alt process printers looking
back, and not necessarily in a reactionary, historicist way, but in a way that
reclaims these forgotten crafts in an attempt to thrust them into the time that
we live in.

and oh yeah, i mentioned temporality. i'd like to hear what you all have to say
about this. one of the things i think about a lot is the instanteneity of our
(western) culture. cell phones, text messages, email, drive up bank machines,
24 hour convenience stores, instant everything; i think about this in regards
to our perception of time. the more instantaneous things are, the less we feel
time. the more we live in a constant present. i think alt process (and wet
darkroom work as well, and a lot of art, but i'm talking about alt process in
particular) hints at or breaths life into this lost feeling of time that at
least i have experienced. shrinking, sizing, coating, drying, testing, note
taking; all of these processes have taught me time, or at least have done well
to quell my need for instant results. and also when i'm making gum prints or
cyanotypes, or simply shooting and excitedly awaiting my film to be finished
processing, i feel a kind of history that resonates through these processes
(this feeling is definitely historicist in a reactionary way, but i can't help
it) and i feel connected to a past i didn't really experience, other than
through this affinity of process.

i'm also interested to hear concepts behind your work. and what you feel your
chosen processes do for it beyond aesthetics. and what you take pictures of and

i know this is a pretty weighted email, please forgive me, i keep quiet for a
while and then explode.


Received on Tue Mar 9 11:47:50 2004

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