©Aline Smithson, What's More Beautiful, from Shadows and Stains
Shadows and Stains, notes from a dark room
After the closure of my community darkroom, I struggled with the state of photography today--its pursuit, the business of it, the idea of selling an image, the artist's viewpoint, the MFA school of imagery, the death of the wet darkroom, iconic photography, toy cameras and digital cameras, edition and print sizes, old rules, new challenges—all the currents photographers have to navigate in today’s photographic waters.
©Aline Smithson, To Stand Sturdy, from Shadows and Stains
©Aline Smithson, Moving Through, from Shadows and Stains
I was not only saddened to lose my workplace, but also a decade-long community of friends and colleagues. As a darkroom printer, I have found the meditative and creative state that I experience so important to my work—it’s where I make my mark, it’s where much of the thinking about the image takes place. Losing that experience, as part of the process, was not an option I wanted to face.
©Aline Smithson, Dreaming But Awake, from Shadows and Stains
©Aline Smithson, Owned By Stieglitz, from Shadows and Stains
The series, Shadows and Stains, started as a reaction to a similitude of imagery I was seeing in digital photographs. I wanted to create a body of work that deconstructed the idea of a photograph, what it captured and expressed, and the interpretation it created. Shot with a toy camera (the Diana), images were taken apart, negatives overlapped or cut, text and texture added through traditional methods in the darkroom, and washes of oil paint added to give dimension the surface. I sought to discard the idea of making the perfect print and merge my darkroom thoughts into the image. I wanted the shadows and stains of my photographic fingerprints as evidence that I was there, in a dark room.
Producing this series helped me reinvigorate my creative practice. This is an ongoing project and each is a unique print.
©Aline Smithson, Would They Remember, from Shadows and Stains