Abstractions from the 19th Century

Wet Plate Collodion Process


Project Statement

Digital imaging combined with ancient technology, science, and an element of chance all play a role in my latest work with abstract images. Through high resolution digital scans, I am exploring the abstract pictorial effects of chemistry used in the 19th century wet plate collodion photographic process, which I use to make tintypes, ambrotypes and glass plate negatives. My work is an investigation of the materials of the medium.

Although the use of chemicals in wet plate requires precision, the visual results are not always predictable and may be enhanced by the intentional or unintentional introduction of contaminant particles. Abstract images form as a result of organic reactions on the surfaces of glass and metal plates that I use.

The abstractions offer various visual and interpretive possibilities. They reveal fractal patterns produced by photo-chemical reactions. They might also suggest satellite images of the Earth in the aftermath of drastic climate change, or perhaps the surface details of other planets, whose geology and evolution are similar to our own.

Tintype Abstraction 001

Tintype Abstraction 001