Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Photogenic 'Drawrings'

Completely randomly, on Friday, Supervisor Greg was like, "Hey!  You guys want to make a photogenic drawing?"  Hye-Sung and I responded, "Yeah!"  Photogenic drawings are one-of-a-kind objects because there is no intermediary negative.  I have some really awesome platinum chemistry photogenic drawings I made of leaves last spring.

Supervisor Greg had some old photographer's proofing paper, so we cut out paper shapes and put little translucent objects on top of the paper to block the light.  Then, after sandwiching the photo paper and the light-blockers between a piece of glass and a piece of cardboard, we put our little make-shift printing frames in a window for about an hour.

The Surrealist artist Man Ray used to make photogenic drawings which he egotistically termed Ray-o-grams.  Despite what Man Ray's dubbing of the photogenic drawing may lead you to believe, it is actually one of the oldest photographic techniques.

William Henry Fox Talbot, an early photograph mover/shaker (think 1840-ish), made loads of photogenic drawings.  One of those gentlemen of leisure puttering in the sciences, Talbot worked out of his family's estate, Lacock Abbey, in England.  (Lacock Abbey is also known as being one of the locations where Hogwarts-scenes from the Harry Potter movies are filmed.)

Anna Atkins (working around 1850-ish) used the cyanotype process to create the first photographically illustrated book.  Cyanotypes are some of my favorites.  So blue!

Post-light exposure.  You can see how the photo paper has turned dark.

Hye-Sung wanted hers to be Canada-themed.  So she cut out snowflakes.  I merely hacked at an old page of the Daily Stephen Colbert Desk Calendar, making asymmetrical stars for mine.  And the recycled paper of the calendar was translucent enough that you can read what the Daily Dose of Stephen is in my photogenic drawing, in which he compares children to body-snatchers.  (Thanks Mary Ann!)

Supervisor Greg mixed up some fixer and we put our little prints in the solution, so now they are delightfully permanent.  

(Fun but somewhat science-y fact: though we used a photographic paper relatively similar to what Man Ray would have used, our prints are brown because we left the paper in a window for an extended amount of time.  The silver that formed that way is in the shape of small spheres.  These spheres are small (nm small) and scatter and absorb light in such ways that they appear colored.  Man Ray would use an enlarger to create his Ray-o-grams, developing the print in a chemical solution.  That way the silver that formed in Man Ray's prints looked more like clumps of steel wool.  These wooly bundles are much larger than the sun-made-spheres and absorb the light, appearing black.)


Heather said...

Professor Peterson (the male one) would be so proud that you remembered all this from History of Photography. I guess you also got it drilled into your head in Photographic Processes. Looks good!

Mary Ann said...

I see where Pres. Obama is in Ottawa today. CNN showed Parliament, the Giant Spider, frozen canals and many familiar sights that you photographed on your blog. I was excited. Sure would be nice if you caught a glimpse of Barack!

Ynn said...

Is this like the projrcts we used to do in Cub Scouts - blur paper, sunshine and something opaque like a leaf ot whatever? Looks like it. Gee, those boys were doing something artsy and they thought they were getting their nature merit pin!