Recently I found the photo media artist Ben Cauchi who has been making surrealistic dreamlike photograph works using old technique including Ambrotype and Tintype which were used in around 1850 after the Daguerreotype, the first commercially successful photographic print in the history. And only one photograph can be made with those processes. I am sure they didn’t need to worry about the edition marking on prints at that time whether they were valued as an art piece or not.
The most charm of photography for me when I started not far before Millenium year, was the whole control on the processing from the choice of films to the printing in the dark room. And people started to look back calling the so-called ‘Alternative photographic process’ which was referred for the historical non-silver process before those silver gelatin print or c-type print. Well now the broad term ‘alternative’ can include all film processed work methods in this digital generation. Even digital enlarger has been made:
I had been interested in those hand-made printing process and looking for the chance to learn to make one. The first ‘alternative process’ for me was the ‘Salt print’ where I join in the workshop with Ellie Young at the Gold Street Studios. Gladly the Brunswick street gallery acquired two of those salt print works for the ‘2010 Small Work Prize’.
I finally got the chance to try my initial alternative process interest ‘ Photogravure’ : rather it is called ‘Photopolymer print’ or ‘Solar print’ as now we use non toxic polymer plate instead of copper plate. The charm of this technique is the various adaptation of printmaking process including colors on phorographic images. Since then I couldn’t resist of learning further printmaking techniques including etching and silk screen printing.
I wanted to try more alternative process but not to complicated in the process and materials. And found the ‘Gum bichromate’ process which requires only two cheap ingredients : Gum Arabic and potassium dichromate. It is a simple process but quite time consuming as it requires several layers for better visual result. However the effect and the control of different color toning with the choice of water soluble pigments, made me forget about the time passing.
Another relatively easy and charming process is the ‘Polaroid transfer/emulsion lift’. The typical Polaroid film 669 for this process is hard to get nowadays and ‘Fuji 100c film’ became the excellent choice as long as the stock last. I had a pleasant experience joining in the ‘Medium Vinly 2011′ exhibition held at Hardware gallery among other brilliant idea vinly works.
Why do I bother of doing these stuffs looking around discontinuous products with a big effort instead of the high digital technique with better polished result?
The dirty handmade pleasure and the unexpected beautiful effect of anti-accuracy!
As the character of these techniques, there are no exact same works created and I love that creative pleasure without reproduction.