John A. Blythe
My practice is process driven. Process is important to me, it satisfies my curiosity and sense of playfulness, connecting with my inner child, allowing me to experience the captivating alchemy that inhabits analogue photographic process. I am also fascinated by the aesthetic quality of the materials I work with, revealing the inner landscape and intensity of colour that is a manifestation of both the process and the materials own physical character. I love the imperfections, the merging of what comes from me and what comes from the material. I specifically work with obsolete colour photographic papers and films that are decades old, yet still vibrant with colour, which might otherwise be redundant. Being able to transform them into something new, not through any sense of nostalgia, rather a desire to breathe new life into them, fills me with joy.
I have always found the alchemical magic of the photographic darkroom to be the most exhilarating moments in the photographic process and ‘Chromogenesis’ has evolved to make this the subject of my work. I’ve taken the dominant concept of photography as a tool of documentation and turn it in on itself. My interventions are gestural and drawn directly from the actions of traditional darkroom developing. At first glance appearing abstract, these images are representational, but not of place, rather of a call and response between material and gesture.
This work joins the long-standing dialogue exploring photography about photography, raising questions around the thingness of photographic materials. My practice brings together art and science, reaching back in time to the birth of photography and capturing the essence of its innovation and creativity. Working with obsolete colour photographic paper and film, this work explores the molecular level interactions that made photography possible for the first 180 years of its existence, in order to establish a new visual language for an otherwise redundant technology. For me, there is a mystery at work in analogue photography that surpasses the technicality of the process and taps directly into the imagination. I am interested in the possibilities that exist within, in the absence of the imposition of camera or light. Light has long been considered the fundamental building block of photography, yet in a post-medium praxis, I question the validity of this notion.
Locations: United Kingdom