My project “67P” is an investigation of light, time, and space as explored through photography. It focuses the mission of space probe “Rosetta,” which set out in 2004 to reach a comet named 67P. 67P was discovered in 1969; it is a celestial body that is bound to Jupiter’s orbit. Every six and a half years, it completes one full orbit, a journey of hundreds of millions of kilometers through deep space.

In 2014, the Rosetta probe met the comet deep in space. The probe sent back detailed information about the comet before ending its mission by hard-landing on the comet’s surface.

My own project began on earth, with photographs of my grandfather. As I looked through the photographs, I was less interested in their content and more in their formal qualities, especially since the original prints I found from this period were mostly deteriorated. I started to look for even more faded or otherwise defective negatives. Over time, I built up a collection of old negatives that illustrated the subjects of ephemerality and transience.

Cyanotype of deteriorating negative. © Florence Iff, Winner, LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards 2017

I have always been drawn to questions of life and where we come from. Whether thinking about the Big Bang Theory or the infinite possibilities of parallel universes, these subjects have occupied my mind for years.

I was drawn to use photography to investigate these questions because, to me, the medium is so adept at capturing individual moments of our life (as well as a series of moments across our lifespans). This ability to make fleeting moments imperishable and everlasting is precious, especially when we consider that our own lifetimes are a mere blink of an eye when considered against the scale of geological time.

In “67P,” I combine the antique negatives with images provided by ESA that depict Rosetta’s journey to 67P. The mission was a search, within the primeval soup, for proof of life within our wider universe, but it also touched on journeys, whether infinite or finite.

Playing with these juxtapositions, I created a visual journey that considers universal questions on life, transience, time, and the remains of our existence—the imprints we leave behind as human beings. I want the beholder to be touched emotionally and intellectually; hopefully my work enables him or her to embark on their own inner galactic trip.

—Florence Iff

Editors’ note: This project was singled out by the jury of the Emerging Talent Awards 2017. See all of the inspiring projects from this year’s 50 talents!