EXCELLENT SPECIMENS (in Nines)
The tintype is a photograph of unimpeachable physicality. Its process is tangibly demanding, unforgiving, and reverential. It cannot be rushed or it rebels, as the silver salts that form the tintype are "alive," like all Alchemical metals. Excellent Specimens is a speculation on the tintype's chemical and optical carnality.
Should an artist fall in love with their process? The question plagues me the way a lover wonders how far they will follow their beloved when they already know they have gone too far. I have been seduced by the silver sheen of the tintype- infected, even. And I seek to infect others.
The tintype process is demanding, belaboring, unforgiving, and reverential. It cannot be rushed or it rebels. Hand-made photographs in the 21st century are more than simply atavistic- to even attempt this process in the context of contemporary art seems like a lost cause. And I am a total sucker for lost causes.
A “Novena” is a prayer, often made seeking assistance from St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, repeated over nine days.
In the Tarot, the IX card of each suit is the expression of the Hermit of the Major Arcana- the card indicating the achievement of a pinnacle, where one may look upon that part of your nature and see the grand pattern.
The rigor of this process tends it towards the indexical- so I cataloged what was around me, the detritus of common life, the detritus of my studio, the detritus of recently obsolete technology, and the most literal detritus of domesticated plant life. I try to relate to this flotsam, to give it some small kind of reverence through this process.