The Light FarmA Cooperative of Photographers - Artists & Scientists -
Dedicated to the Renaissance of Handcrafted Silver Gelatin Emulsions
On February 1, 2008, we (I and a dozen willing souls already on
board) will be pushing, prodding, and encouraging a new kind of dialogue
on the subject of handcrafted silver gelatin emulsions. We are attempting
nothing less than a renaissance of a craft long ago turned over to
commercial interests, seemingly out of the hands of the home artisan. In
doing this, we are staring straight into the bloodshot eyes of Paradox.
Photographers are at a very confounding crossroads. As the traditional (i.e. commercially manufactured) materials are being discontinued, some photographers are almost paralyzed by nostalgia. At the same time, digital is easy and ‘perfect’. We are left with the common mentality that individuals are incapable of making a product that competes materially with what Kodak produced on its assembly lines, or that competes with digital for our concept of time efficiency. (It takes me a week to produce one tri-color silvergum print. I don’t even know how many GB of memory cards I could fill up in the length of time.)
The home darkroom is disappearing and it’s going fast. Although change is inevitable and even though the darkroom that yesterday got remodeled into a computer room can always be remodeled again, the casual intimacy that so many photographers, even hobbyists, had with the materials and processes is also being lost, and can’t be so readily resurrected. So…
Back to the Paradox: Most of the discussions going on today about making silver gelatin emulsions are based of the premise that we must replicate Kodak and its cousins. They take off on such flights of mechanical and technological fancy that they remain just that - fancy. The home studio can’t compete with the Kodak campus. On the other hand, many of the materials and skills that Abney (c.1880) and Wall (c.1920) took for granted are no longer available to us. Accept both realities - and maybe even indulge in a little rejoicing. We are citizens of the 21st century. There are no creative constraints.
The Light Farm will embrace the idea of learning by doing. We will enter the creative space as inventors and explorers, as though going into undiscovered territory. “What if” dialogues will come after the hands-on work. We won’t be weighed down by expectations other than our own need to learn and create. We will use and love all the materials available to us today. We will share openly and readily what we have personally learned by doing. We will keep to ourselves opinions that are not backed up by personal experience and verified by a product we ourselves have produced and are willing to share with all. There will be no gurus, no experts.
are all starting at the beginning and moving forward together.