Saturday, 29 September 2012

Deceased Experiment Unexpectedly Terminated!

Over the summer I started doing a number of experiments using the process of Lumen Printing.I have been doing Lumens for some time and also doing small workshops but this summer I got the opportunity to do some experiments for myself. One of them was a rather spontaneous affair. I was presented one day with a mouse, a dead one, our cat is young and doesn't quite get the hunter thing and so has only just started using his 'skills'

This poor little corpse had been placed in quite a ceremonious way in the centre of a circular patch of earth in our garden(post paddling pool)

Well, what was I supposed to do with this gift, It seemed only fitting and appropriate that it joined the selection of flowers and moths and other ephemera being Lumen Printed in the garden. The little body was laid out on a sheet of BW Ilford Ilfospeed grade 1 paper and a sheet of glass laid upon it's delicate little form, much like the lid on a coffin made for Snow White!

The first image was set out for a day, I don't really know why I just didn't do the normal few hours but I think the sky was a little dull. Subsequent images varied form a day to actually being left for ten of them as I forgot and went on Holiday. It did not seem to do that one any harm.

Each time the mouse was moved it was carefully slid across onto another piece of paper so as not to damage it, though after the second day it was more like a popsicle on its very stiff tale than I would have imagined.

My original intent was to record the whole process of decomposition from day one, until it became skeletal and the print would have just had a selection of bones surrounded by flora, unfortunately this has been cut short by the intervention of some rather desperate and inconsiderate animal with a serious lack of discerning taste buds. One morning I came out to find that after almost four weeks or so of work the contact frames that had been lying out in the sun had all been turned over and the photo paper was strewn all over the garden. It wasn't the wind, as no interest had been paid to the other prints as they were not containing rather smelly decaying 'meat' believe me I searched around for them but they had gone.

I was a little dismayed as the body was reducing and it would have been great to see the intact skeleton but maybe this is too macabre. I was so focused on producing the prints and creating a series, anyway I have ten images of this mouse.

I had also been 'given' another to work with but that too had gone and so it was back to the flora and fauna and insect world for me until I am graced with another one from my mad cat.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Fun With Ficcus!

Patience can be a virtue sometimes, especially when you are waiting for a particular image to develop and develop it does, very very slowly. I was cutting back the plant jungle in my front garden one morning during the summer and looking down I could see the beautiful remains of the leaves on the concrete and surrounding these were black stains. These stains were from the Ficcus plant, which was hanging over the wall and above the pavement.This got me thinking that if the concrete was a suitable substrate for the juice and it seemed pretty difficult to remove with water then what would it be like if it was on paper!

 I removed some of the berries which form in interesting bunches. The berries were hard and black, difficult to crush under ones fingers and so I used a pestle and mortar and started pulping them. It takes some time to get a bunch of these berries crushed enough, they are rich in colour but need to have a liquid added in order to carry that colour.

I used rainwater which was there in front of me, lazy I know but I wanted to keep it as natural as possible. I made enough to push through a small sieve and remove any of the grittier bits that were from the husks and the seeds.

I suppose I got enough liquid to cover approximately an A4 piece a couple of times. I coated an A6 watercolour paper from a Windsor and Newton pad and did this twice allowing the first layer to dry in the dark and then I let the second layer dry in the dark as well.

 I made a digital negative from a Sprocket Rocket picture of a Tree that I had used before and the contrast was quite high on this so the image is quite graphic. This was quite a dense image and I used OHP transparency paper for the substrate.I only used one layer as the black seemed opaque enough.

 Now here comes the long part. Once in the contact frame, it was placed outside for about a week and then the weather wasn't so favourable, so it got moved around indoors wherever the sun was shining through the large french windows, until it made it up to the studio where it sat in front of the doors there for at least another three weeks sunbathing!

 In all I think it was in the frame exposing for about eight weeks. I did check halfway through this period and there didn't seem to be that much definition so I left it. I'm quite happy with the results and I do wonder what they would have been like if we had had more of a sun filled summer in the U.K. but I don't mind waiting. I'm going to try a different paper this time and see what that is like.