EARLY CHEMIGRAMS (page 1)
Experimentation with chemistry and photographic paper to produce various visual effects and themes describes the direction of this work. These photographs are a combination of cameraless photography and the manipulation of photographic materials by using them as painting media. The images are, literally, chemical paintings that I call chemigrams. With some of these photographs, the juxtaposition of a printed image with chemical painting creates a form of spatial interaction in which the illusion of depth is provided by the printed image. When chemical painting alone is used, black advances and chemical coloration recedes, creating another form of spatial interaction. Both of these effects tend to produce a cool/warm contrast.
It is also important to state that this method of working often produces several levels of meanings brought together to create a sense of connection which is intuitive, unconscious and abstract. The images are more accurately felt than observed.
These prints are made with methods not usually thought of in photographic processing. The chemigram process involves a strong reducing agent such as thiourea and a base such as sodium carbonate. The mixture of the two produces a silver sulfide stain on black and white photographic paper. The resulting stain is then toned in a gold solution to acquire brown, yellow and red; a printed image developed in a conventional developer will tone to a bluish-black cast in conjunction with the sulfide stain. These images are all one-of-a-kind.
CHEMIGRAMS - A DEFINITION
(pages 2 & 3)
A process devised by Pierre Cordier in 1956. His definition: "The chemigram combines the physics of painting (varnish, wax, oil) and the chemistry of photography (photosensitive emulsion, developer, fixer); without the use of a camera, an enlarger, and in full light. In 1958, to describe his technique, Pierre Cordier coined the words, today used worldwide."
My new adaptation of this process involves acrylics painted on the surface of photographic paper and then developed. I have chosen acrylics because of the less toxic nature of the substance. I have shifted to a hybrid by scanning in the resulting chemigram taking it to the digital level. I first called my chemical prints "chemograms" but I am now switching over to the more universal "chemigram" after Pierre Cordier.
Ansel Adams envisioned the photographic negative as the “score” and the photographic print as the “performance” of that score. Likewise, the original chemigram print, on silver photographic paper, becomes the score for the performance of the print by using a scanner, computer and printer, instead of a darkroom and enlarger. However, unlike the photographic negative, at times the original chemigram print can also be considered the performance.
CLICHES-VERRE or GLASS PRINTS
(pages 4 & 5)
To the best of my knowledge, the specific cliché-verre process that I began working with in 1979, i.e., solvents dripped on smoke-on-glass to create a matrix that is then printed with an enlarger on photographic paper, was not described prior to my 2010 publications. In 2001, I bought the beautiful book “Cliché-verre: Hand-Drawn, Light-Printed, A Survey of the Medium from 1839 to the Present” 1980. It was listed as a rare book at that time. I immediately read it from cover to cover. I was surprised to find that my cliché-verre process of dripping solvents on smoke-on-glass to create a matrix, was not described, mentioned or shown in this entire book. The book goes into some detail on 82 different artists varying with bios, working concepts and techniques used to produce their pieces. I have recently gone through the book again and reached the same conclusion – I had stumbled onto a unique process in 1979.
There are certain visual characteristics to the work that I create using this process that could be called “style.” Over the years colleagues have researched this cliché-verre process trying to find out how I did it. One was an exceptional researcher and he asked me one day, “Nolan, how did you do this. I have not been able to find it anywhere!” I told him I wanted to publish it before I would discuss it further which I did in 2010. Granted, search engines are much better today than they were even in 2001. I have not found works by Moholy-Nagy, Gyorgy Kepes, Heinz Hajek-Halke, Carl-Heinz Chargesheimer or the Bauhaus to be in the above book or elsewhere that use this specific process. I am happy that individuals are using this process; however, it is professional courtesy to cite those who have been instrumental in developing and publishing it.
* This unique process takes on a life of it's own. The strange and odd beauty of these cliches-verre produces images which can slightly startle the viewer. Extreme detail and sharpness are the exquisite attributes of the image.
* These prints were made on Ilford Multigrade Warmtone Fiber Base photo paper. They were produced using Ilford's recommendations for archival processing. The prints were then split-toned in selenium toner to produce a duo-tone effect. The prints all have a 1" safe edge.
* These prints are matted with acid free museum board. The prints are attached to a 2 ply board with Kozo paper corners and linen tape. The 2 ply board is then hinged to a 4 ply over mat with linen tape. A FoamCore backing is included.
* The prints are signed and dated in pencil on the back of the print and with marker pen in the bottom margin of the print on the front.
* As with all my photographs, the intended edition is 10.
* These prints were made in Virginia City, and Reno NV 2000-2009
* The (NgCv ) designation = Nolangram/Cliche-verre
Chromogenic photograms are made by using circle, rectangle, line and square. The simplest of objects are used such as paper and glass to maintain a minimal gesture on Fuji Crystal Archive paper. Chromogenic photograms must be made in total darkness because of the silver based materials involved.