Hal Hirshorn makes 21st century photographs using 19th century materials and methods. Specifically, salt prints, a technique invented by William Henry Fox Talbot in 1841. The intention however is not to recreate period facsimiles. Hirshorn creates images outside of standard time, characters in an undefined spiritual location conjured by the artist’s and the viewer’s imagination. Each salt print results in an unpredictable, singular image, sometimes hard to discern. The artist’s intent is to invoke random associations which function “like dreams, they are neither right nor wrong, they just are.”
The process is relatively simple. It does not require a darkroom. By coating drawing paper with salt and silver, the artist makes his own photo-paper. The negative is then laid on top of the prepared paper, then put in a frame and exposed to sunlight for several hours. The resulting image may be sharply detailed or crude and amorphous. Oblique and ephemeral, but always visually evocative. The general rather than the particular, but also that moment when the present is truly present. Made on the fly, on the run, spontaneously, this century or last century, the woman gazing out at the viewer is every woman who ever broke your heart, then and now.
– Max Blagg
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4 thoughts on “Photographs”
These are wonderful. I remember making sun photos as a kid from a little pack of special paper we’d buy in the candy store. But they inevitably faded. How are these kept from fading?
I make my own paper -drawing paper treated with salt, silver and gelatine,which is then washed and fixed. Your special paper was intended to fade away. This kind of paper was used by professional photographers to test negatives (proof)or give sample prints to clients ,to ensure that they would pay for the end result, they were given a print that would fade. If they paid, they got a fixed print that would last.
Now that you mention it, I just remembered, I actually have some very old contact sheets from over 40 yrs ago. They’re very faded. Thanks for the info.