Photo-Synthetics: Camera-Less Photography

Artists Rita Baunok, Patrick J. Cicalo, and Ruth Raskin are using a unique artistic process to create chemigrams. Chemigrams are the result of photographic paper being exposed to the chemicals of a darkroom with a source of light. A design on the paper is produced when a resist, such as a common object, is placed on top of the paper during the exposure process. The resist does not allow a chemical reaction to occur and leaves behind a contrasting visual effect the areas the resist makes contact with.

In 1959, the chemigram process was pioneered by Belgian artist, Pierre Cordier. However, it is not a widely practiced artistic process due to its unpredictable nature. The creation is an experimental artistic approach that is ultimately left up to chance. The reaction between the darkroom chemicals and exposure of light to the paper are not easily repeatable. Unlike traditional photography, the chemigram process will never result in an identical image.

Cordier references to the production of a chemigram as “painting with light and chemistry”. Some of the resists used in this exhibition are wire cooling racks, hair spray, tape, and plastic wrap. These objects allowed the artists to create a desired, yet spontaneous, image during the exposure process. The three bodies of the work displayed in Photo-Synthetics: Camera-Less Photography highlight their artistic intent, and acceptance of what is uncontrollable.

Photo-Synthetics: Through the Lens

A camera is able to capture light in an instant and produce an image that is representative of that moment in time. With a single click, the light around lens is reflected through chambers and captured. Traditional photography depends on light to both illuminate the lens' surroundings and produce the image in a darkroom.

Miguel Cristal shares his worldly travels with a click on a camera. Cristal’s photographs not only captures people and their surroundings, but the sensation evoked during the fleeting moment. His work binds together a split second of illuminated light, spirit, and connection that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Sarah Mackay, Curator