I am utterly in awe with Joni Sternbach’s images. My list of things to learn is long, but one day I will find the money to learn the wet-plate collodion process.
Of her series “Abandoned” Joni says: “My photographs over the recent years have embraced the traditions of landscape, seascape, and architecture. The human imprint on these views is what concerns me. I search out relics and ruins reflecting that imprint to reference the past and our history. Working with a large format wet-plate camera, I scout locations that are close to or directly on the water. It is at the edge of the land and sea that the mystery of an abandoned past is revealed. Structures that have long ago lost their functionality are now emblematic of a more primitive and lost time. These views/photos represent the last stand, the human effort as can be most poignantly seen through decay and the return to nature. Illuminating this fragile place, I intend to draw attention to these sites and their contradictory nature.
The wet-plate collodion process, widely used in 1860’s, has a profound relevance to this body of work. Ironically this process frequently documented the dawn of the industrial revolution and its settings. To employ it now creates a visual thread. I use period lenses and original chemical formulas to reference this history. I also maintain a very spare and contemporary aesthetic to differentiate my work from what has come before me. I have mixed up the standards that my forefathers have used as well. I shoot landscapes with portrait lenses and prefer lenses that don’t completely cover the size glass I have chosen, giving my pictures a vignetted effect. All of these choices are meant to show the viewer a little more of the craft than is customarily expected. The hand poured collodion process produces unique and instantaneous positives on a glass plate (ambrotypes) or tin (ferrotypes) as well as negatives. The entire process is done on location, with a portable darkroom.”.
I have dreamed about it for the last year, have fretted about it for the last few months and here it is – I say it – UYW goes to print*. I am actually doing it. That was scary – I guess not just writing it, but putting it out there… So artists are invited and as I wait for them to confirm, I ordered some paper and book samples.
No I have not received a grant to print UYW (one has to write these grants first and they are soooo much work, but will get back later to this), nor have I won in Lotto or had a project which paid me handsomely – wish. No what motivated me was this. The Foto Book Festival sounds like a great opportunity to show UYW to a new audience, and once again – no I do not expect to win, but one can always dream and put it out there, expecting nothing but hoping for the best. I live with a yoga master – hence my contentment…. just made myself giggle. Anyway, if nothing happens at the book fair I will look for other ways to bring you a printed copy. I am not sure what this year will bring, but the year of the rabbit sounds rather exciting.
Ok, so here is my dilemma. I have invited 11 artists and think of including myself in the book. So far, I have always been of the opinion that if I curate – I do not include myself, but these days I think – that if I do not include myself (every so often), how or when do I get my own work out there? (And yes I included myself in the Jan 2010 issue, but that was because an artist confirmed and then never sent the images, and at that stage I didnt have anyone else lined up). I opened up a discussion page for this and am very interested to hear your thoughts.
* Initially I will print only 5 copies – with the paper and quality I am after, and then we’ll dream further.
These days we are constantly busy and life is hectic. There are many things to fill the day and as many adventures to be explored. As fine art photographers we need to find the quiet moments to notice the mundane in a new perspective. To follow the light, to be able to stop and observe. From walking the streets of London, to following bathers, finding discarded objects and usually unnoticed moments, by looking at our surroundings & environment. We are all drawn to different aspects of every day life. As photographers we try to preserve the memory of an experience.
This issue highlights the different styles of five photographers, who while different, are in some way concurrently pulled together by their unparalleled memories.
You can view the new issue here.