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

From: Steve Bell ^lt;>
Date: 03/09/04-08:39:14 PM Z
Message-id: <>

Hey Adam,

First, please don't take this conversation into the political realm, if we do,
it will be stopped and then nothing will come of it. we gotta stay on topic.
please don't be insulted by this statement, i just want to hear what others
have to say about process and concept, and if we start off on other things, i
won't get any feedback.

i find it interesting that you don't think that cyanotype, too, references the
past. you mentioned silver nitrate, there are a few processes, by my
understanding, that use silver nitrate, which were you using? cyanotype
definitely makes me think back, gives me a nostalgia for i time that i never
experienced, and also always speak death to me. cyanotypes are so melancholy
and such a historic turning point, that i immediately historicize anything that
is presented in that context (process as context, that is interesting.).

when it comes to making images that directly reference to current society and
current issues in the way it seems you are doing, i find myself returning again
and again to cibachrome and ra-4. i feel nothing can expose the gloss and
materiality of postmodernity other than its own processes and images.
particularly in a debate that is as journalized as gay marriage (i am only
mentioning it in the context of it being a media laden issue, not to talk
politics, remember, we're not talking politics). i would prefer to see glossy
cibachromes than cyanotypes. but then again, if you're going the emotional
route, i suppose cyanotypes work well that way.

but i must say i'm glad that you're thinking about process when you're thinking
about concept, they are inseperable. what school do you go to? and why do you
say it's a post modernist school? that's impossible.


Quoting "Adam. Waterson" <>:

> Steve--
> I attend an extremely liberal post modernist school in the south. It's
> photography program's major pushes are towards video, performance, and
> alternative processes. The teachers tend to view color as a necessary
> skill, but rather bland in the grand scheme of photography. and bw is
> something you can do in your house with 20 bucks worth of materials.
> as far as the differences between structuralism and post, that makes a
> lot of sense the way you worded it. that is the basic concept as per
> my understanding... that structuralism looks at the structure of a
> society, the way the "machine" works, and post turns that around, and
> negates the fact that this system is locked and steadfast, but rather
> the institution always changes. nothing in our society is a constant
> except the idea of change, which becomes a rather disempowering notion
> when you of a modernist sensibility, and you are "the artist" making
> "the art" and your documentation of "mankind" becomes the pinnacle of
> reality, but in real life, that moment is gone, all moments are gone,
> and photographs are mere relics of a time that has long since past,
> even if the image was recently made. our photographs do no more to
> explain reality, as they do define a people, or document the world.
> I have been rediscovering cyanotype for the first time in a long time
> recently. I continue to return to a book of John Dugdale's (check out
> Jackson Fine Art in atlanta if you don't know his work
> i think)... but the sheer simplicity of the
> cyanotype, the wash of blue that conveys so much of a stoic emotion,
> really grabs me when i'm thinking about my current body of work. an
> attribute of cyanotype that i really enjoy is the contrast gained
> during printing, because most of the imagery that i'm using now need to
> be really soft and delicate ideas, i'm looking at the way humans
> interact with each other, and why some people feel the need to prove
> their self worth by diminishing other's... specifically i'm responding
> to the current political trend in the south, to make constitutional
> amendments to further ban the already illegal gay marriage. i've spent
> a lot of time considering why it is that people feel the need to
> discriminate against other peoples that they've never met themselves...
> and i've come to the conclusion that it is really based on a monetary
> selfishness... the only effect that gay marriages will have on members
> of the christian coalition is a strain on the economy at large, that
> the social security benefits will be reduced for their children,
> because we're being provided the same rights as others. so as much as
> people want to blame "homos" as sinners because of what god has decreed
> in the bible, they take the opportunity to pick and choose passages
> that they feel relate to their cause. i think i'll believe a lot more
> in the power of the bible, when all christian women spend 1 week out of
> the month, sitting in a hut, because they are "unclean" while they
> menstruate... the bible says that it is required, so hop to it..
> but i digress, lol, so the cyanotype has recently been calling to me,
> to be my medium for this body of work. silver nitrate softens images
> too much, makes them far too antiquated to feel like they pertain to
> current society, while cyanotype with the highly deepened blue
> tonalities calls out to my subject matter in a really interesting way,
> with the pop in the highlights that is inherent in the chemistry, i'm
> really drawn to the idea of the sea of blue washing over images of
> flowers, with text accompaniments that speak to emotions, rather than
> intellect.
> well, i hope that this is a catalyst for some thread, i feel that i've
> said a lot of bold things here, that a lot of people on this list won't
> agree with, specifically dave from wyoming, that told me when i posted
> some video work i did, that i was a hatemonger for possibly trying to
> attain equal rights for myself and anyone like me. :)
> if you didn't catch that previous thread.
> so for now, i will off to work, i'm interested to see what conversation
> is spawn from these inqueries. and if anyone can point me to some texts
> that really flush out the theory behind post structuralist ideas,
> besides derrida, i'd be greatly appreciative... :)
> adam.
> On Mar 9, 2004, at 3:45 PM, Steve Bell wrote:
> > 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/
> > semiology.)
> >
> > 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?
> >
> > steve
> >
> >
> >
> > 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 20:40:17 2004

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