DESERT LUMEN SERIES
Light is energy, and how that energy illuminates the world around us is magical. Light is what helps us to see all there is physical, which for me can be quite spiritual. Most of what I create is about the relation with the subject matter, my spiritual connection. WithDesert Lumen series it’s a literal version of “Chasing Light”, but not just that, it’s the light that exudes from all there is.
Lumen printmaking at its simplest definition is a solar photogram. It is an image created by laying items, such as plant material, on photographic darkroom paper, then exposed by the sun leaving a light impression. This type of photographic processes, also known as an alternative process, is one of the earliest forms of photographic experiments from the 19th century.
I come from a long line of inventors and experimenting is one of those things that is part of my genetic makeup. Most of my work is an experiment with manipulation oftechnique, yielding the finished piece that hangs on a wall or sits atop a pedestal. Recently I saw a lumen print in a show and was fascinated by its warmth and how it seemed to capture the essence of the plant within the image.
A month or so back I took a trip to the Eastern Sierras with a goal of gathering plant material wherever I stopped. Armed with scissors, gloves, a sharpie, and plastic bags, I accumulated different types of plants, leaves, and grasses in order to have enough objects to create my prints on location. Bins were filled with contact print frames, an assortment of new or expired photographic paper, tongs, trays, towels, clamps, a small table, chair, snacks, texted glass, a jug of fixer, salt, vinegar, and so on. I had a mini lab set up in the back of my jeep wherever I landed.
The process is simple, find items that light can penetrate through in 30-45 minutes,lay items on photographic paper (I used warm tone papers), expose to sunlight. After 30-45 minutes, rinse in tray of water, save in a light sensitive bag to fix later or fix onsite, finally scanning one of a kind prints additional uses once arriving at home. Fixing the print (I used Kodak Fixer) after exposure does two things, it keeps the print from further exposing to any kind of light and it also changes the color due to the reaction of the fixer to the paper. A few were fixed onsite and turned beautiful hues of yellows and oranges with some sage greens and eggplant purples, of course new paper produces different results than expired paper. Saving prints to scan before fixing, allowed for beautiful bright colors of pink, purple, yellow, and orange which was a wonderful surprise.
Surprises in alternative photography is fascinating and a wonderful practice of letting go, let what happens happen with no judgment just see where it takes you.
Brandy Sebastian, 2022
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