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Positive/Negative (Clouds)

Alyssa Minahan17, MFA, Photography
Positive/Negative (Clouds) | 2017, Photograph

Archival Pigment Print, 20" x 25"

Artist Statement

The foundation of my work is rooted in the ephemeral nature of time, specifically the inability of photography as a medium to capture time and space in the way we experience it. My practice evolved from a project I was working on depicting the liminal period in my sons’ lives between boyhood and adolescence. I discovered that within my work, straight photographs of my sons were too indexical to a specific place and time. Consequently, I began using photographic materials in unconventional ways to demonstrate this transitory period of time. By creating an installation of these various materials, including scanned prints of unfixed gelatin silver paper and partially obscured photographs of my sons, I am able to visually reflect this complex and layered relationship in a more tangible way.

A key element of my practice is based on my research into the material qualities of unfixed gelatin silver paper. I have discovered that by exposing the paper to varying light sources, I can control the quality and tone of the color of the paper. I then layer the paper onto or under other papers, leaving them exposed for different amounts of time, from hours to weeks. Although each piece of paper is exactly the same when it is removed from the box, it will depict different hues, shapes and representations of space based on the environment to which it was exposed. I scan the changing, organic object at different points in time, similar to the way we use photography to capture important moments or people in our lives. In this way, each abstraction becomes a meditation on the ephemeral imprint of time and space in which it was created. Although the medium of photography can never recreate our lived experiences, I believe it can capture our phenomenological understanding of existence.