from the series "Omnipotent"
I employ a hand-built pinhole camera to create large scale one-of-a-kind c- prints. The subject matter currently, a collection of ordinary glassware, some of the first objects purchased by my immigrant parents, are assembled by stacking, shelving and/or balancing pieces into a single tableau, and often within a larger construction. These utilitarian and decorative items, are some of the things I vividly remember in our home growing up. They represent the beginning of a new life in the United States, after leaving behind the homeland of Sicily. These now nostalgic pieces are transformed by the unique recording characteristics of the camera's wide angle, the extended exposure, set design + composition, and the light sensitive paper's recording abilities.
Carefully physically manipulating the still life during the exposure controls the results; altering the saturation, color, density and translucency of certain areas of the arrangement. My long term interest in process, traditional materials, and the reaction between light and chemistry, as well as the personal and universal stories told through every day objects, drives my work and studio practice. Elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary...the every day to a magical and place. In addition, the work recalls the well known 17th century cabinets of curiosity, Henry Fox Talbot's Articles of Glass, family dining room credenzas, and the church niches etched in my mind from childhood, where objects of importance are revered.
The 10 artworks provided are from a series called “Omnipotent”. Each image is 24” x 20”. The light sensitive color paper is exposed to nearly an hour of varied light in excess of 20,000 watts. The f/stop equivalent of the pinhole is f/958, a tiny opening requiring prolonged exposure for the paper to record an image and remain a certain sharpness. The process is somewhat of a performance as I move objects, change and shift lighting, dodge and burn areas by casting shadows or funneling additional light to a selected spot, to increase or decrease density to certain areas. Though I am moving to quickly to be recorded in any discernible way, I am, so to speak, a part of every image.
No digital tools or technology are ever used in creating these analog studio and darkroom processed photographs. Increasingly reflecting on the endless flood and speed of changing technology today, I step back and invest in prolonged experimentation, investigation and hands-on making that speak to a change in how we use our hands and bodies. Over the last 20 years, I have noted the change in the physical dexterity of younger generations and in the way we all see, interpret and react to the world around us, given the on-going digital revolution. My personal relationship, awareness and sensitivity to the physical world constantly inform my work. The labor intensive work is in contradiction with the camera selection. A sort of “loss of labor” if you will…occurs given the soft focus of the pinhole camera versus the quick hyper real image that could be created by digital means. This irony is fascinating to me and drives me further into physical engagement with the process.