Artifact #1610 Gelatin silver print (photogram) 20×16 inches 2013 http://calebcharland.com/artifacts-of-fire-and-wax/
Out of a desire to be elemental within the medium I began making this work with the most basic of materials; Silver gelatin paper and a red candle. One of the earliest accounts of the camera obscura in ancient China was the result of seeing the projection of a candle through a pinhole in a sheet of paper. I wondered what would transpire if I limited my means of production to those two objects; a light source and a surface.
In the darkroom I lay a sheet of silver gelatin paper on the ground, light a red candle, and hold it over the surface of the paper. As the flame burns and exposes the paper, drops of wax fall onto the emulsion. Being red wax each drip becomes a small red filter, preventing further exposure by the flame. Once I have achieved a curious pattern of drips I begin to develop the image. The wax, which first acted to resist exposure by the candle, then acts as a resist to the chemical development of the photograph. After the first cycle of processing is complete, only areas of the emulsion not covered in wax develop and turn to metallic silver. I then begin to crack the wax bits with my hands, creating fissures and revealing unprocessed areas of the emulsion. The paper is then run through the chemicals to add tone to the newly revealed, unprocessed regions of the paper. I continue this process for several hours, removing wax and running the paper through the chemistry dozens and dozens of times. Most surprising is the palette of color resulting from flame and chemical interventions with the emulsion.The results are such wondrous and curious tracings of silver.
The time spent making each of these images feels ancient A similar sensation to where the mind goes while staring into the flames of a log fire; Hours hovered over a white plane with fire in hand, watching the liquid drop to the surface. First a shadow as the wax falls then a snap as it connects and splatters across the emulsion. I wonder how each of these actions will render visually. These artifacts of the fire and wax remind me that photography is inherently a medium of the inverse. Shadows become light, Light turns to shadow.
This new series is made with images of star trails taken from the surface of earth. Because of gravity our earth rotates daily, annually we circle the sun and everything else moves along arcs through time and space. Photography is a medium of light offering windows to moments in time far away from where they are seen. Gravity is a consequence of the geometry of spacetime.
More from this series here: http://calebcharland.com/star-cubes-3/
Hello and happy 2014. I wanted to share a recent post appearing on Colossal http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/01/caleb-charland-back-to-light/
“There is no better, there is no more open door by which you can enter into the study of natural philosophy than by considering the physical phenomena of a candle. I trust, therefore, I shall not disappoint you in choosing this for my subject rather than any newer topic, which could not be better, were it even so good.” -Michael Faraday
I hope June is treating you well. My two solo shows in Boston and Chicago have been well received, please read the review! Now that the shows are up and rolling I’ve had time to return to the darkroom to make some new work with the light and wax from red candles. These new works are made with 4 sheets of 20×16 inch silver gelatin paper. I hope you enjoy them