Being out of the space for a long while, I’ve had time to think about what it is I’ve been trying to do, and how this has manifested until now. This process, and the crisis born shifts of context, framing any forward motion in the arts in the UK now, are making me come back home, so to speak, to re-articulate what I want to do with analogue photography in particular, and my practice as an artist in general. I’ve been working on a new website for personal work outside of the Darkroom Birmingham project (though there is some overlap), that will be launched soon, but I’m writing here about my aspirations for a social/ interactive/ participatory practice that’s rooted in this particular space and its processes, and the communities around us here, in the Old Print Works, Balsall Heath, and Birmingham.
I’ve been thinking about the space under a number of headings, a rubric for enacting distinct functions of the space and strands of working. The first I’m writing, and working under is Darkroom as Process.
By this I mean the making of photographs that is completed here. It’s a cliche of analogue sentimentalists that the process, and the print output of silver based monochrome photography is somehow special. Although this is a new cliche, that has only emerged since the schism of digital and traditional technologies, and in spite of the many strands of reformation that break down this duality – more of which later – I think there’s truth in these value judgements. I know them, and feel them to be true, and I’m making some new work to the highest standards of quality reachable by me, here, now, in part to try and lead by example, and in part to show what’s possible, in technical the terms of fine art printed object production, at Darkroom Birmingham.
There’s another aspect to this, which is to do with process, and ideas I’ve been having about the performance of photography. I’ll write more about how this work can be seen to have been performed, and about what analogue process brings to the performance, later. The image above is from the new project.