George Eastman’s advertising slogan „You press the button, we do the rest“ is applicable to this day, more than a hundred years later, to more or less any piece of technology. But I think of it the most every time I take a photo using my smartphone. Thanks to those ever present devices, my children’s childhood is perfectly documented. Even if it weren’t for the everyday advances in digital photography, this reason alone would make me rally in support of digital photography.
However, I can’t avoid aspiring to something more than the everyday motif – digital photography simply doesn’t give me the same level of pleasure as it once did. That journey became overly simple and predictable. The destination is literally there at my fingerprints, skipping the journey entirely.
That must be the reason why the wet plate collodion process kindled my interest over the last couple of years, before finally enticing me to start practicing it myself. The fact I’m taking part in the entire photographic process, from mixing the chemicals and coating the plate before exposing the photo and watching it materialize, makes me feel like I’m taking part in something much bigger than most photographers today would think (or rather – remember!) to associate to photography.
And so I decided to remember, to remind us all of the lost art that created some of the most iconic and history defining images. And BLUR will be doing this by dedicating the year 2014 to wet plate. In our regular BLUR editions, we’ll put more emphasis on the wet plate section that was already present, as well as find connections to wet plate in other sections where appropriate. We’ll also publish special issues devoted to wet plate in a mission to further popularize the collodion process and put the spotlight on photographers who practice it. We’ve even set up a very ambitious wet plate photo competition, Equinox, organizing support from amazing sponsors in order to secure a rich prize fund, all of which you can explore on our website. Hopefully this contest will push those of you on the fence to try out the collodion process yourselves.
Yes, we’re quite aware this old, complex technique will never return to the mainstream – nor is that our goal. Our only wish is to create a body of digital, 21st century work that preserves the beauty of the collodion process, showcases its intricacies and creativity, and supports the wet plate community. Our goal is to remember the journey.
CLOSE-UP Viki Kollerova, Slovakia
“To take a picture that would show what you feel, what you fight, or who you are is the hard thing—especially because you can’t force it, you can’t do it too rationally. What I try to do is to be spontaneous, to interact with the environment, to throw away the premeditated concept and give way to subconscious behavior.”
PROJECT Yusuke Sakai, Japan
"A Salaryman refers to a Japanese white-collar businessman.
Every day we have the blues.
The days that are busy with work continue.
My fatigue accumulates.
If the fatigue exceeds a certain threshold, however, I stop feeling tired.
What is it I am seeing there, feeling little upsurges of sentiment and comfort drinking a nutritional drink and striking a keyboard?
It is the world in my heart.
It is the world unrelated to daily noise.
I am looking at me in the world vacantly.
I am looking at me with no consciousness.
This work is the self-portrait that recorded the inside of my heart."
WET PLATE France Scully Osterman, USA
“My role at Scully & Osterman during this period was twofold; to teach public workshops and private tutorials in historic processes and to manage the exhibitions of our own work. Mark and I were also asked to demonstrate the wet collodion process and teach workshops outside the United States during this time, usually in the context of photo conservation. So from 1996 to 2009 we jointly taught collodion workshops in Canada, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Mexico, Germany and Japan. In many of these places our workshops were the first time collodion had been used since the nineteenth century. It was, however, a little too early for artists in those places to take notice.”
INSTANTION Nicolas Poizot, France
"Today the action of man is felt everywhere. I choose to take a different look at my surroundings daily. By taking pictures of the trivial, I wish to show that our impact on what’s around us has become commonplace. We no longer pay attention to it. Through construction or destruction, calculated actions or unwitting influences, these pictures are the results of this acknowledgment. The use of a Polaroid camera adds a dimension of instantaneity and proof to the pictures."
PLAYSTICK Daniel Polidori, USA
“As an artist, I think some of the most creative results come from the early stages of discovery and experimentation. I strive to not force the art and let it come when the moment is right. I carry a large camera bag full of a variety of cameras with the intention of constantly challenging my approach and diversifying my results. I experiment with different brands of film, filters, and lenses and attempt to break as many “rules” as possible. ”
PINHOLE Gregor Servais, Nederland
“These pinhole seascapes are about nostalgia, melancholia, and something that the Germans call “fernweh.” It’s hard to translate, but if I tried it would be something like “a longing to travel, to be in different places, to be on the road.”
TETRA Steve Landeros, USA
“I am not much of a writer, so I express my interests through the images that I make. My intention with every photograph is not to convey the feeling I had at that moment, but to provoke individual thought. The images within this collection are tied to each other through the obvious black, white, and nine shades of grey, but the unseen is why I have selected them for formal presentation.“
WIDE Rafal Rozalski, Ireland
"Landscape photography for him is something that cannot be repeated. You can be in the same place every single day, but it will always be different. The magic of light and weather conditions allow you to capture the excitement that can not be described in a few words."
OPEN Silke Seybold, USA
“To me these locations are compelling on many levels: The smell, the different textures, the danger, the uncertainty, the solitary and yet comfortable mood as well as the feeling of time passing. After returning to these buildings I developed a connection with these locations and my deepest feelings.“
PROEYECT Lara Zankoul, Lebanon
"From estrangement to the growth of life, Zankoul’s images encapsulate the spectrum of human emotions. In lighter moments, Zankoul’s models appear in ballerina tutus and flowing dresses, which due to being submerged underwater, have a greater billowy, lighthearted visual effect. Those approaching darker subject matter reference paranoia, human propensity to mask lies, betrayal and manipulation, and the trials of those struggling to find their voice."