An artist working with electronics and electronic media, based in Brooklyn, NY

Retinal Pigment Epithelium and Other Vision Technologies, Real or Otherwise Imagined

A study of the effects of high voltage and household cleaning products on instant pull apart color film.

Materials: Fujifilm FP100-45C Instant Color Film, various household cleaning products (bleach, vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, salt, rubbing alcohol), 15,000 volt neon tube ballast.

Process

Images

I’m unable to find the source of the sentiment that the camera is an extension of the eye, but it’s that very idea which I’ve intentionally taken literally, to an extreme. When looking through the datasheets on various instant color film, I was struck by the similarities between the layering of materials in the film and the layering of cells in the retinal. Though I’m not well versed in the history of film development as parallels the development in the understanding of the physiology of the retinal, the similarities were striking.

We are situated in a place where the photograph as an object has lost its primacy to the digital image, and the whole discipline of photography has undergone fundamental technological changes without much consideration for how this alters our theoretical understanding of the role of the digital photographic image in society and cultural (re)production. Following my work with digital cameras, I felt compelled to explore, or rather challenge the ontology of post-digital photography using extended techniques—bending, cracking and breaking the medium—to not only produce a medium specific work, but something that is an absolutely unique image/object.

Without a camera, images were produced through a combination of processes which parallel techniques utilized in previous experiments with low-resolution digital cameras. Various household chemicals are applied to the surface of the film both before and after exposure. Through symbolic act of cleansing, the fidelity of the film is compromised. The film is also subjected to 15,000 volts of alternating current. In a flash, arcs spread out across the surface, sometimes burning holes, even igniting the film. As in our eyes, images are conveyed in a stream of such electric impulses, only here amplified some 300,000 times. I find it curious and exhilarating that the impressions left behind after developing these extreme exposures so perfectly resemble networks of blood vessels in the retina.

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