Thermophile

Thermal toned gelatin silver prints, each approximately 4"x4", 60/1,000.  

 

This project is an ongoing exploration in chemically altering gelatin silver prints in the mineral-laden, sulfuric waters of volcanic hot springs.

Accentuating the alchemy of film processes, this project speaks to the transformation of the self, both as metaphor and as physical, chemical reality.  Marrying traditional silver-based photography, travel and geophysics, this process traces the imagery's metamorphoses through a series of specific chemical transformations.

After having been printed, bleached, and washed, the photos are transported to distant locations--volcanic environments teeming with hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots.   In these geothermal fields I carefully immerse the photos into these superheated waters.  Iron, sulfur, copper, aluminum—the atoms of dissolved elements latch into place, bonding to the silver in the photographs’ emulsions, fusing and forming new compounds.  

This mineral abundance, paired with the spring’s acidity and temperature, causes each photo to be redeveloped in a unique appearance—no two ever appearing the same.  

In this way, each photo acts as a paper-thin capsule of the landscape in which it was toned. The earth then has final agency in how the images appear. 

 

 

Thermophile installation view. Argus II, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images Copyright Jon Verney 2015