The cyanotype is—historically considered as—a photographic media because of its reliance on chemical processes and its relationship with light. Its process and the resulting images are, also—in part—, considered as a process of printmaking when factoring in the requisite imprinting/mono-typing of objects on the paper surface and the process’ adjacency to silk-screen printing—particularly the exposure process that includes emulsification fluid, exposure to UV light and a rinsing of “uncured” emulsification fluid. To discuss my work and consideration of cyanotype before situating my larger practice into a history of photography and printmaking would be a misstep. Firstly, therefore, when comparing a photographic history to my practice, my ink paintings align very much with photography. The adjacent criteria of both include the flatness and texture of the image surface, the prominence of chemical reaction as means of image creation, and the comparable history of experimental darkroom photography that foregrounds the chemical bath and exposure process over the photographed subject. Additionally, my work is aligned quite closely with printmaking in processing and in image. To begin most directly, a significant portion of my painting process deals with monotype printing, as I use plastic tarp as the mono-typing instrument, pressing it onto the surface—matrix—of an ink painting in progress. The image results that come from this monotype approach create a strong contrast of color and value in the image, further foregrounding—literally—the flatness of the image, while also creating intensely contoured elements of composition. Both the color and value contrast and the prominence of crisp contour is relevant to photographic sharpness and to the labor of printmaking.
Now that I’ve situated the process of my ink painting practice in a history of printmaking and photography, it is still imperative that I place the imagery of these works in a more considered context. Those would be contexts of the visceral, medical, and expansive space (grand perception). The flesh tones and textures in my paintings are those which are visceral, considering the compacted space of interiority, the variations of flesh—including muscle, bone, cartilage, ligament—and their interactions within the body, and the dynamic motions and activities that occurs inside the body and, equally, the outer activities that our bodies perform in space, as extensions into space, because of the functioning of those visceral tissues. The medical context is one adjacent to that of the visceral, that considers the medicalized imagery of my work. Consider body scans as an aesthetic: high contrast of tone, the gloss of the surface, unfamiliar and compact compositions of visceral tissue. These are not only characteristics of my paintings but aesthetics that I, personally and experientially, am very familiar with because of my history of athletics and my spinal un-health. Body scanning, surgery, physical therapy, paint, and intense use of my physicality make up activities and references that familiarize me with the visceral and medical contexts that my work speaks to. Lastly, to describe the context of expansive space (grand perception), it is significant to reference the previous contextualization of visceral and medical, to now make a connection in my practice that links the interiority of my imagery to the sense of large landscape/seascape/outer-space. The physical experience and consequences of my spinal health procedures and lived experience of physical activity and pain have since informed my life and art practice greatly. With this, my interest not only manifests as an embodied condition, but also as a fixation on expansive space, driving a desire to project out into space as an overcoming of bodily constraints. This projecting into space materializes in my work as the appearance of expansive space, sharing with the viewer the experience of perceiving large space/grand perception.
Finally, the contextualization of my ink painting practice allows us to understand the contiguous progression into my use of cyanotype. The quality of the image is, on many levels, comparable to my ink paintings: high contrast, texture and form that is evocative of landscape / environment / nature, figuration, and interiority. My cyanotypes share, very much, the contexts of my ink paintings—visceral, medical, expansive space—while being more overtly referential to a history of photography and printmaking.