For this workshop we learnt how to create photograms and chemigrams based on the artist Pierre Cordier. Pierre Codier is a German artist who invented the chemigram technique in 1956 that combined the physics of painting (with materials such as varnish, wax and oils) and the chemistry of photography without a camera. He first discovered chemigrams when he sent a happy birthday letter to a girl called Enrica (while he was in military service) by writing out the words in nail polish. When he developed the card, where every the nail polish was it was left white because the nail polish blocked the light sensitive paper from the light.
Chemigrams can be made solely with photo paper, developer and fixer which resembles a watercolor effect. Different effects can be made and merged by using different materials such as varnish, wax and oils.
In our workshop we used light sensitive paper and a variety of random objects and materials to create our own photograms which are the first three images below. First we created a sample piece where we would expose different parts of the paper to more or less light to find out the right amount of time needed to get the best effects for the photograms.
Once we had the right time figured out we then created multiple photograms with the different materials. I found that feathers and sand are really interesting materials to use for this process because the light is stronger in some parts of the feather where its thinner, and the more sand that I had in one spot the brighter it was on the photogram. So it left we with really interesting and different shades through the three sample pieces.
For this process tone is definitely a key point because we mostly working with different shades and how we can make them brighter and darker depending how long we leave the sensitive paper exposed to a light. Also the use of negative space is definitely important in this process because instead of the negative space being white, it’s black instead, so if you leave too much space open then the piece can look sinister and mysterious because it’ll be dominated by darkness, but it can also be used to create some cool looking effects such as in the third image where I used two feathers quite close together, but the negative space between the two feathers looks like a shadow or a ghost of a new feather that’s not there. I also used string which had a weird effect because it didn’t go completely white, but instead it looked really faded. I think this happened because the string might not have been completely against the ground, it might have been slightly hovering above the paper so light could still get underneath it, so in future i need to make sure everything is down securely and not loose at all to make sure I get a clear photogram. but overall I enjoyed this workshop so I would like to come back to photograms later on in my projects but i can’t think of any situation i’d need this process unless my project was based on photograms.
In the last image Pierre Cordier did something different with negative space and instead, he used soaps and oils to fill in that negative space and it created an amazing effect that looks like holes in a porous rock or like soap being washed away while the leaf is stuck at the bottom of a sink or a river. But the image does look ghostly, as if its decaying away and all that’ll be left is the leaf. What I also like about that piece is the way the background looks like it’s flowing over the leaf.