Synthetic Alchemy

Ready to see something totally different!?

I told you before that I used to primarily work in Alternative Darkroom photography and I thought it would be super fun to show you! Back in February 2015, I had my first official art show at my school for my senior thesis work. It was called Synthetic Alchemy.

Most of my work was shot on a medium format twin reflex camera (the kind where you need to look down to see your image and focus it!) and some 35mm. I focused on taking images in nature, which was no easy task out in the city of New York. I often took weekend adventures out to the Rockaway’s, upper parts of manhattan along the water, or even into upstate NYC. When I got home I would process the film then subject the negatives to household chemicals before hanging them up to dry and scanning them at school.

Why Chemicals? While experimenting one day with BAM, I had some unexpected things happen. While reading the box, BAM had listed similar chemicals to bleach and Oxiclean that were very fast working chemicals so I assumed that it would also react quickly. I usually can see these chemicals working in seconds, but this didn’t happen with BAM. I proceeded to watch this chemical over a few hours and nothing. I ended up going to sleep and woke up to quite the surprise to find the negative had completely separated into it’s separate color levels (magenta, yellow, and blue) and completely sat at the bottom of the cup leaving just the plastic film completely clear. I was blown away! I knew there was a time where they had to process each color separately to create color images but I had no idea that the negative itself contained these same levels until this chemical separated them! Probably the next cool thing was that I was actually able to grab the colors and lay them back onto the negative and move them around. Now while this negative looked super cool by itself, the scanned version wasn’t good at all.

The next day I had off, I dedicated to to this chemical because I KNEW that the reaction would happen within a 12 hour span of time. I started my morning with putting a negative into a chemical and then periodically checking on it all day. There was no change for many hours but when the change happened, it happened fast! at the 9.5-10 hour mark suddenly I saw the negative separate. I ran it to the bathroom and got it out of the chemical and proceeded to play with it. It separated 2 of the 3 layers so where I could move them around slightly. I was just so amazed and started thinking about how our skin is made up of so many layers as well. It’s not news to know that the things we do and throw away tend to hurt our environment in some ways as well as some people are more sensitive to certain chemicals and react different ways as well.

This project became a visual representation of what these household chemicals may be doing to not only our own skin but the environment as we rinse them down the drains.

I hope you enjoy looking at these images because they are seriously my pride and joy when it comes my art side of photography. I hope one day I can get back into making these sorts of pieces!

First off, here is what my show looked like!

Next are the close ups of the images I showed 🙂 Enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my old work! If you are interested in buying any of these please let me know! Also don’t forget to check my instagram cause I am going to show some behind the scenes video and before and after chemical processes!

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