Re: Alternative Processes and Concept and Temporality and...

From: Steve Bell ^lt;>
Date: 03/09/04-02:45:15 PM Z
Message-id: <>

Ah yes, Adam,

that is definitely the kind of thing that i was looking for. how people use the
process to further their concept. i think it's very important to pay attention
to. in fact, it's most of what i think about. a lot of people who use
contemporary color processes knock alt process printers, and a lot of alt
process printers knock in return, but if you ask me, concept is what dictates
process. at least in my working methods.

your albumen project sounds great, if you have any links to images i'd like to
see them. presently i'm working on a series of images that my grandfather shot
in the 50's and 60's. he died about 10 years ago with alzheimer's, and
basically remembered none of his life when he died. so i'm making a series of
gum prints using his negatives and slides in an attempt to reinvent his
memories, but also to recontextualize the images. they are basically random
images. my grandmother remembers none of them, my grandfather is the only who
can tell me what the images are. so basically they have become free floating
signifiers. that which they have signified is gone, and they have no context
now. (this plays into more post structuralist critique, but also structuralism/

i guess maybe i can help you out with your understanding between structuralism
and post. basically what differentiates post structuralism from structuralism
is that post (see derrida, et al) believe that, for example of a sign system,
language is unstable because any sign (word), can mean anything to anyone.
there is no specific structured meaning to any word. so when structuralists
study a phenomenon, they look for its universality, when postructuralists do,
they decry its universality as non existent because nothing is stable. i may be
butchering this, but i don't think so.

anyway, when it comes to postmodernism and modernism proper, i think alt
processes, and the return to them, is an important phenomenon. alt processes
are very modernist. if you look at pictorialism, that is a great example of
modernism in action, just like the abstract expressionists, pictorialists went
against the academy to push art to a new level. of course, photography at the
time wasn't really looked at as art anyway, which is too bad. the pictorialists
i believe were well known for gum printing too. anyway, one of the canon's of
modernism in art and painting was that it kind of rebelled against the
institution (now it's being taught in schools, which is kind of funny...). alt
processes are being taught in schools too, and i'm not sure how new of a trend
that is. maybe someone can chime in on that one. but again, sometimes i see the
employment of alt processes as kind of a return to modernism. or at least a
retrospective/instrospective look backward.

ok, enough blabbering, what do you think?


Quoting "Adam. Waterson" <>:

> Steve--
> I think this is a really fascinating thread, and am sorry more people
> have not responded (or anyone) to it yet. Personally I use each medium
> as a different expression of ideals, because each medium you touch has
> its own characteristics. Personally I'm really invested in Albumen.
> in the past I have used it conceptually to relate place to time, which
> sounds rather heady, but I'll explain. when my mother passed away
> close to 2 years ago, I took a dress that reminded me of her, that was
> white (which has many layers of conceptual meaning) and took it back to
> places that she would have been if she had been living still. It was
> important to use albumen to place the imagery in a stilled state of
> time, resting backwards, rather than forward in space.
> BWAH, I've had too much coffee today, but I am pretty interested in the
> continuation of this thread because I feel like most often alternative
> process work is forgotten by the Mainstream Art industry because the
> conceptual backing to most alternative printers is rather lacking. But
> many ideas are particularly furthered by the printing process, chance
> being the biggest one. I don't know how you'd identify yourself within
> theory, I am certainly influenced by Post-Modernism, but there is a
> certain part of me that responds artistically to the ideas of
> Structuralism/Post-Structuralism. Unfortunately I don't know enough
> about the theories to be able to separate the two. Anyone have any
> help for me on that?
> Alright, enough, i have to get ready for work. thanks for the thread
> Steve, its a nice breath of fresh air to all of the talks of process,
> because conceptual backing is an important, if not, the important side
> to an image.
> adam.
> On Mar 9, 2004, at 12:47 PM, Steve Bell wrote:
> > 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
> > why.
> >
> > i know this is a pretty weighted email, please forgive me, i keep
> > quiet for a
> > while and then explode.
> >
> > cheers,
> >
> > Steve
> >
Received on Tue Mar 9 14:45:35 2004

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