Wednesday, after a stressful day at work, my sister-in-law and I met up in Manchester, CT for some art gazing. It was my first time venturing out to PhotoSynthesis, a photographic service center for artists and students. I first learned of this business because they provide studio and dark room rentals, but what I found most exciting about them is that they provide alternative photographic process equipment. All their services are charged hourly for non-members, and only $10/session for their members.
Alternative photography uses contact printing methods, may of which were discovered and utilized by the early photographers beginning in the mid-1800s. Some of these methods include cyanotype, Van Dyke Brown, gum bichromate, and others. Not only have modern photographic artists started utilizing these historic processes but other variations have been born from these methods with the addition of modern technology.
If you want some examples of these photo processes check out My Artwork page, all the photos I have included in that page are done by an alternative process. It’s not a real wonder why I get so excited about finding a business with such services. It is definitely the direction I would like to continue on as my passion for photography evolves.
As well as providing such great services for photographic artists, PhotoSynthesis also provides a gallery space in which to feature photography by established and emerging artists. Gallery 136 1/2 was featuring a duo artist show called “Shadow Tessellations” with an opening reception on March 22nd. Sadly, I was out of town and unable to be present that day, but the images I saw made me very curious to go see the exhibition.
Artists Christine Dalenta and Benjamin Parker have come together to form an exciting unification that meets in the creative process. The result…a magnificent body of work. It is a must see for those who are visually driven.
Parker’s craft of paper tessellations is almost reminiscent of the origami animals I learned to fold from my sister when we were children. I say almost because his tessellations are much cooler than any origami I ever made. Tessellation, as defined by dictionaries, is the process of tiling a surface to create one or more geometric shapes and patterns. When I saw some of Parker’s tessellations I immediately thought of manipulated textile. As an avid enthusiast of going to the fabric store and touching every texture I find visually appealing, I found Parker’s origami paper quite fascinating. Here is a couple of pictures of what his work looks like:
Now, let’s move on to explaining the rest of the exhibition and where Dalenta comes in to mix her own magic along with Parker’s tessellations. Working with a special photographic paper called ad-something was key due to its flexibility, Parker was able to create his pattern-induced creations only to hand it over to Dalenta so that she could expose it while still folded capturing the light in certain areas of the folded paper, and then developing it as a flat surface ready to be framed. The end result? A unique formation of pattern and depth created solely by the exposure to light.
As you can see by the pictures above, the intricate patterns formed by the exposed photographic paper are so interesting and full of depth. But it only gets better as you inch in closer to the framed photo. You start seeing the lines where the paper used to be folded, and these creases are making a pattern of their own, giving the artwork significant interest. The great depth that is perceived will depend on the individual because the existing creases on the plane of the photo paper varies by how the light hits it and at what angle you are seeing it, therefore I imagine a taller person than I (I’m only 5′ tall) might see it different.
The images that these two artists have created by combining their techniques have the characteristics from natural occurring patterns found in nature to lines found in architecture, and even some that resemble the human anatomy. Parker, who spent hours in the darkroom folding the photo paper, explains on his website that he does this technique as a way to learn patience. When these (beautiful all on its own) origami designs are unfolded, a great geometric patterned landscape is unmasked upon the viewer. The tonality of the body of work, from black to white and every shade in between, was like a magical scenery which urged to navigate it.
I was lucky that Parker happened to be there and we briefly spoke about his method. A graduate from Central Connecticut State University, like myself, I thought that he might know the art department pretty well. To my utter surprise he majored in French Literature, but he is a regular at origami conventions held yearly in New York City and Worthington, Ohio and he is literally one of the world origami masters.
It would have been great luck if Dalenta had also been there to speak to her, but since I was not able to make the opening reception I was very glad that I met at least half of the talent.
If you are in the CT area and are looking for something to do, spring by PhotoSynthesis, you will not be let down. There isn’t anything like this work being done any where else (of which I am aware). And if you are an amateur photographer who would experiment with developing processes, talk to Chris Huestis, the owner of PhotoSynthesis, you won’t be let down.
Finally, check out this final photo below, my favorite of the whole exhibition. I would love to hear from the readers what you thought about this work? Were you as impressed as I was? Let me know your thoughts, ideas, and inspirations.