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I have grown up around cameras. My parents are documentary filmmakers. Early on, I understood how a photograph can capture reality. As a child, I also spent time in my grandfather’s darkroom, watching him as he went through the process of printing negatives. I watched as the images emerged in the chemicals. It seemed magical to me. A gnarled tree limb, a snow drift, a strange image emerging out of a series of torn papers on a wall. I remember him explaining the steps of making a picture. However, it was only when I arrived at Bard College that I began to think about how each step in the photographic process can affect the content and intention of an image. It was more than simply capturing reality.
In The View Camera class I took with An My-Lê I learned how to split-filter print (a printing technique that allows for separate exposure of highlights and shadows). This opened my eyes to the ability of the printing process as a means to express artistically. I realized that this is the process by which night photography is possible, as well as other high-contrast instances. Once I had this foundation, I found myself thinking, while I was actually shooting, about the photograph in its final form – a print object. Instead of trying to document the world exactly how it was, I was interested in creating a different world, a transformed world, within my photographs.
The word photography, translates in Greek to, ‘drawing with light’. In my practice, I use light to shape space as a way to develop and observe found mysteries. I am interested in seemingly mundane moments that can be elevated by the light. How can I use what already exists in the world to my advantage? I have always been curious about weather and, consequently, the shape-shifting of light weather can cause. In the winter, after a snowfall, the entire ground becomes an indirect light source. Through the rain, the light gets refracted, distorted, and softened. And on foggy days, digital imaging technology is able to see objects in the distance much easier than the human eye. There is something beautiful about the fact that the digital camera is sometimes better at seeing in certain weather conditions than our eyes.
The photograph has the ability to transform, flatten, and decontextualize space. I use this to create instances of disorientation within my work. the in-between times is about the relationship between light, the world, and the unique way the camera sees. I have chosen to photograph these moments that feel in-between reality, latency, and an unknown magical possibility. My goal was to use my new understanding and control over the photographic process and lighting to move beyond simple documentation toward creating emotional experiences for myself and the viewer.
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Shenk, Abraham C., "the in-between times" (2022). Senior Projects Fall 2022. 8.
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