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Artist Statement

Execution

The “Execution” series is a metaphor for putting yourself out there, with the realization that the likely outcome may be failure.  Although the artists are depicted at a point where the outcome is inferred but not known; they remain defiant.

The danger in these photographs is not real, but mental.  If the depictions were actual the potential and probable outcome would be more morbid and definite, the sacrifices much more tangibly dire.  The injuries here are symbolic and reference the artist’s psyche, not their physical being.  Although in many of these cases, the damaged psyche manifests itself in physical damage.

This series features young artists from varying disciplines who have made tangible sacrifices in the pursuit of their craft.  The artists sometimes appear bound and blindfolded, or preoccupied with a seemingly impossible task, making their most important physical tools (hands, eyes, mouth, etc) unusable.  Each portrait depicts the artist as being bound to a metaphorical object.  The object is directly related to their particular sacrifice and story.

The selection of artists is deliberate.  The stipulations being; up and coming but at the beginning of a potentially successful career, still struggling, clear end game goal, and effort spanning a significant span of time.

The gamut of sacrifices ranges from autoimmune diseases induced by stress and lifestyle to monetary and mental sacrifices to sacrifices of time.  The severity of sacrifices depicted varies greatly, but each is important and relevant to that particular subject’s struggle.

The body of work also heavily deals with process.  The work is executed in a manner than spans the history of photography.  When we started the project the process worked backwards through time as the photo started as a digital negative, was then outputted to film, and finally printed onto an ambrotype.  One reason for this was to emphasize the timelessness of the act of sacrificing for a craft, vision, or dream.  In a similarly fitting way we were recently loaned a 24×20 mammoth camera from the early 1900s. This has allowed us to continue the project entirely in camera, still utilizing contemporary practices but creating something even more pure and unique. Cartier Bresson wrote, “There are no new ideas in the world, there’s only new arrangements of things.  Everything is new, every minute is new.  It means re-xamining.”  This is a story that’s been told before, and one that will be told again, but we feel our own stories need to be told now and in this way.

We’re at a curious point in time where photographers and artists have access to such a wide range of contemporary and antiquated mediums, so we’re capable of picking and choosing what medium and technique will best portray our particular vision.  The Wet Plate Collodion process creates something that is both tangible and unique, and for a contemporary artist in the digital world this sharply contrasts how the majority of our work is displayed and stored.  It almost makes it more “real”.  The look and feel of the finished pieces invokes a sense of nostalgia, but has been completed in a contemporary style.  The use of glass contrasts the theme and remarks upon the fragility and delicateness of an Artist’s psyche, while the wet plate collodion process itself is so apt for variances that each photograph is inhabited by it’s own unique nuances. The Ambrotype is the finished product, unable to be reproduced. These one of a kind objects are the culmination of all of our own efforts over the past months and years, as well as the culmination of all of collaborations taking place between ourselves and the featured artist. Each piece is the physical manifestation of all of these efforts; because the process is so fickle, most times it seems that it’s almost as if these ambrotypes shouldn’t even be able to exist, yet they do as they so delicately hold onto being a physical object.  A thumb print, a stray piece of dust, a ripple in the setting varnish; all add to each piece’s gestalt in a similar way that the wounds, dress, setting and objects each touch upon the subjects own story.

 
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6 Comments  comments 

6 Responses

  1. Hello, I just stopped by to visit your blog and thought I’d say thank you.

  2. Very powerful body of work that resonates with my own personal struggles. Thank you for developing and sharing! I am looking forward to seeing the work grow.

    • I love these portraits.I am a sceond year student City of Glasgow College and wonder if you would come in to do a talk in City of Glasgow College over the next few weeks if you have time we would love to see you and your amazing work in our photojournalism class. Elaine livingston spoke very highly of you as well when she was in talking to us. I have enjoyed looking and your images and finding out about how you have developed your love of photography and the wet plate process. Regards Amanda Hemphill

  3. This is the straight The “Execution” Project – Artist Statement journal for anyone who wants to act out out around this message. You asking so some its nigh wearing to discourse with you (not that I truly would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new rotation on a message thats been holographic about for geezerhood. Prissy object, just major!

  4. Loved the video, and especially the commitment and sacrifice for art. I do not have to sleep next to my chemistry but having enough devotion to your art to do that is impressive. Keep at it folks, your on the right track.

    I was looking into how to make enlarged ambrotypes/tintypes and from this video I see its possible using a positive in the enlarger.

    Thanks very much for your encouragement. Gerry

    • Daniel

      Thanks Gerry! You can make positives and contact print them using pictorico (I’ve never done that method, nor do I know how they they contact print onto the wet plate, I’ve just heard of people doing that) or you can get digital positives made (I get 4×5 Ekta’s from Duggal.com). Exposures are often over a minute long though using the enlarger, I usually contact print a test at 30, 60, and 90 seconds. Good luck! Since that video, we’ve actually been shooting entirely in camera, less control but the result has a greater tonal range and feels more pure, if that makes sense. -Dan

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