About this project
In a nutshell...
This summer I have the incredible opportunity of participating in a residency program at Artscape Gibraltar Point in Toronto, Ontario. Oh, Canada! The residency is located on Toronto Island, situated in Lake Ontario just off the coast of Toronto, and is only accessible via ferry! While at the residency I will be producing a new series of large cyanotype photographic prints using giant paper negatives combined with traditional contact printing techniques. I am running this Kickstarter campaign to fund the supplies I’ll need to complete this project.
- This project is successfully funded. AWESOME! But now there are some stretch goals that would be really great to reach. Check them out further down the page.
What is Cyanotype?
Cyanotype is a very early (c. mid 1800’s) photo process that is practiced today by photographers working in alternative processes. Its most recognizable feature is the vibrant blue color of the final prints (prussian blue to be exact). The chemicals used are applied to any absorbent material, dried, and then exposed under UV light, commonly the sun, which has also given them the name “sunprints”. You can either make photograms by placing actual objects over the sensitized surface, which is what Anna Atkins became famous for, or you can contact print negative if you prefer more photographic effects.
I use cyanotype for a few reasons. First, I'm not stuck in a smelly darkroom for hours in order to get a beautiful image and there are less chemicals involved. (It develops in water, how great is that?) Large scale cyanotype printing it is much more economical than darkroom prints. Also, compared to many other photographic processes, cyanotype is relatively forgiving because of its low sensitivity to anything other than UV light. Since exposures are measured in minutes rather than seconds, I can alter the final product in ways that would be nearly impossible in a traditional darkroom setting. For me, it’s the perfect balance of predictability and latitude for experimentation.
What is your work going to look like?
Well, that’s kind of a difficult question to answer since I haven’t made the work yet, but I will answer questions I do know the answer to which might get us most of the way there.
- One could assume that the work will be blue, which may be true, but there are ways to tone cyanotypes (violet, brown, black, red… and then there are split tones!). So, that is something I will have to determine once I see the images being produced.
- I know that I want to make final images that are roughly 36x45, which is the largest size of negative I can readily produce. I may work in diptychs or triptychs and I do plan on using a mixture of contact printing negatives and photogram techniques using physical objects.
- As far as content, my recent work has been entirely about how our interaction with digital culture is having a profound impact on our own self-definition. This has created an odd paradox in which we simultaneously have multiple digital personas as well as a singular identity that converges with technology's binary definition of who we are. Since a big part of a residency is about taking your practice to a new space and letting that speak into your work, I want to take this multi-singular paradox and apply it to place, specifically the places of suburban South Jersey (where I live and grew up) and Toronto Island. I don’t specifically know where this will take me, but I would plan on the body of work focusing on ideas surrounding globalization and perhaps memory or nostalgia.
Additionally, you could view some of my work at benpanter.com in order to get a better feel of my aesthetic tendencies.
Why go on a residency?
Three words: Time, Space, and Community. A huge value of a residency is simply dedicated time away from daily routine where one’s only task is to fully engage with the creative process. The studio space and tools provided as a part of the residency are also important because it gives me a way to work which is normally difficult in my own studio. Also, I feel that spending time in close proximity to others who are engaged in their creative process is the best way to expand one’s own practice. I look forward to meeting new artists and I know for certain that an artist friend of mine will be there during the same period. So, I’m hoping we can engage in some collaborative work.
Why Artscape Gibraltar Point in Toronto?
Different residencies offer a wide range of opportunities, and Artscape Gibraltar Point supplies the right balance for my needs right now. I’ll have my own studio, access to a full darkroom, (which will come in handy if I’m coating and drying light-sensitive material) plenty of open space in which to be inspired and make work, and I’ll be spending time in a community of artists which should prove invaluable through the exchange of ideas.
What is the money being used for?
I am running this $600 Kickstarter campaign primarily to fund the supplies I need to make work. Also factored in are fees and taxes that I’ll have to pay as well as the rewards I’ll be shipping out to you. Specifically, the supplies I'll be purchasing are:
- Large (9'x18') muslin pre-sensitized with cyanotype chemicals
- Several large, paper negative prints
- Lots of smaller miscellaneous items that I'll need in order to pull off making giant, light-sensitive prints, such as a flexible dark slide, clips and stakes to hold everything in place, mineral oil to make the negative more transparent....etc.
STRETCH GOAL 1 - SUCCESSFUL!
If I get $100 more ($700 total) I’ll be able to add on a few more supplies that will allow me to work on a small side project while in residence. Since the cyanotype process needs bright sunlight, it's really got a 9-3 kind of timetable. So I've decided on this additional project which dovetails nicely with that in mind. I've always been fond of pinhole photography, so I plan on taking some low light digital pinhole photos. In order to do this I'll need a pinhole lens cap for my camera and an intervalometer in order to allow for very long exposures.
STRETCH GOAL 2 - UNLOCKED
Any money beyond the first $700 will go towards the trip expenses (travel, room & board) which totals over $500 for a grand total goal of $1200. We can do it!
Tell me about some of the rewards.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of rewards I would want to receive from a project like this, and I’m really excited with what I’ve been able to make available.
- Original 5x7 cyanotype prints that I’ll make while at the residency are available. Since I’ll be near water, and the original Anna Atkins cyanotype book was of water plants, I’m hoping to make my own mini study of Toronto aquatic plant life. Of course these prints will be on archival paper and signed by yours truly.
- Another awesome type of reward is 18x24 inch poster prints of the large scale cyanotype work I make while at the residency. So you’ll have your very own piece of the residency hanging on your wall.
- I’m also very excited for the ebook, magazine and book I have offered as rewards. I have made a few books in the past to not only document the experience and the work, but also as a way to process what I really learned and gained. Each of these three rewards will be based off the same idea, but each will have some unique content as well.
- For everyone who pledges at least $15 dollars, as soon as the project is successfully funded I will be sending out an ebook that I created as a result of a previous residency in Ireland. It covers my experience, the ideas I was processing while there, and the work that I produced in my time there. I’m hoping it will help you know me a little better and tide you over until the other rewards become available.
I hope you are as excited to receive these rewards as I am to make them. If you have any questions feel free to ask.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about my project.
Risks and challenges
This appears to be a fairly low-risk endeavor. Challenges may arise, but I'm confident that my flexibility, can-do attitude and expertise will win out.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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