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Back into the Dark
I credit the digital revolution with reawakening my photographic desires. A cheap scanner and a Mac allowed me to shoot and scan without a darkroom in the 80's and 90's. But there were only mediocre methods for printing B&W at the time. My friends who heavily manipulate their images developed techniques to photograph their computer screens with film or converted digital files back into film using digital film recorders. All printing was done traditionally.
In 2000 I upgraded my computer and scanning equipment and tried black and white printing on various inkjet systems which ended up being an emotionally taxing experience to say the least. As the years go by it seems the B&W inking systems and equipment are becoming better and more reliable, although the scanning technology remains difficult, in that excellent film scanning equipment remains prohibitively expensive. In light of that, it makes sense then to go totally digital. Nevertheless, I tend feel more satisfied with a more hands-on approach, literally that my hands have done the work as opposed to a computer and its accessories. Rational? Perhaps not, but it seem to be my response to the "post modern" and "digital age" rhetoric. Or else my disdain at the costs of full-frame digital equipment. The more people abandon B&W film and chemistry the more my work seems to diverge from the norm in terms of "look" or ascetic quality. Again this has shifted with the popularity of post production digital filters for grain, bokeh, lens effects, etc. The bottom line is that the reason an image is powerful is independent of the process.
The success of creating a print using the various means available does not determine the success of an image as an object of art. Once a print, a tangible form, exists, there no longer should be an issue regarding the method of creation. Rather, we should be concerned with the thing its self and our connection therein. It is in this place where I find the most obvious point of departure in the digital divide. The image must be born, exist in the world as a tangible object of interest, connection, and interaction. The digital dimension of images on a screen or the web are only potential objects and therefore offer the viewer an ersatz connection to it's being. Some kind of tangible permanence must be granted before their effect can be judged.
Darkroom Print Processing Tank Building