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Investigating people's concepts of boundaries, comfort & play by creating wet-plate portraits where I pose as a member of their family.

BIO / STATEMENT

I have exhibited work at the San Diego Museum of Art's Summer Salon, UCSD's UAG Gallery, and Art Produce Gallery. I curated Twins in Twain for the 2011 San Diego Contemporary Art Fair, and was in charge of the design/build aspect of The (In)Visible Project.

My art focuses on engagement, the dynamic between risk-reward-loss, collaboration, and—always in there—beauty. I design my work to involve people, strangers & participation.

WHAT THE PROJECT IS

The project is RELAMPAGO… In RELAMPAGO, fotography is the means by which people and strangers are engaged to participate in something illuminating, powerful, unpredictable, destructive and wondrous; RELAMPAGO (spanish for lightning) strikes, splits, captures and transforms.

For RELAMPAGO I’ve outfitted a motorcycle with camera equipment and a mobile darkroom, giving the project mobility and a greater area for exploration. 

I will publish a catalogue of my work in the form of a 32-page tabloid newspaper called RELAMPAGO FOTO—printed on 54 lb. coated stock paper instead of newsprint—a craft quality art book offered in a traditional mass-produced medium.

PROJECT IN DEPTH

As Minor White puts it, “While camera records superbly, it transforms better! Camera transforms so successfully that, among other things, what Else things are is a photograph!... The documentary photograph, the literal image, is the ultimate illusion… because the documentary perpetuates the illusion that life itself is the only reality.”

(Work cited: White, Minor. Mirrors Messages Manifestations. New York: Aperture Books, 1969. p. 106).

The nature of wet plate collodion fotography is that it leaves out some things while enhancing others, producing the dramatic effect it is known for. RELAMPAGO draws on wet-plate's historical tradition of exploration and documentation, but adds an element of pretend...

Through pretending, RELAMPAGO plays with people's levels of openness, comfort, boundaries, tastes, insecurities, playfulness... and their direct impression of me.

In RELAMPAGO, participants will collaborate with me in a fictional foto-narrative, creating wet-plate family portraits where I, the stranger, pose as a member of other people's families.

Some people will enjoy pretending... for others it will be asking to let me in to their lives in an uncomfortable way... Like lightning, I am an inconvenience landing in the middle of things, for just this moment...

Posing inside other people's homes, in front of tourist attractions, in studio settings, we will collaborate to decide which member of the family I will be... I could be your son, long lost brother, partner, father of your children, cousin, uncle…

Who would you accept me to pretend to be?

Who wouldn't you let me pretend to be?

RELAMPAGO is mobile because of the importance of moving ahead, of seeking beyond—it involves give and take, being in a vulnerable state—but offers the opportunity to find MORE.

WHY FOTOS / WHAT IS PROCESS?

For RELAMPAGO I’ve chosen to work specifically with wet-plate fotography because the magical process and collaborative experience it entails—the vulnerability, the luck and chance—are central to my art practice.

In contrast to modern digital or film processes, in the wet-plate collodion technique, precious chemicals are mixed by hand using 19th century formulas and technology to create strong, gorgeous images directly on solid metal plates.

Every plate is sensitized, exposed and developed right on the spot while the chemicals are wet; subjects must pose for up to 30 seconds, and each image is a one shot deal... each plate one-of-a-kind.

And there’s no traditional negative. That light reflecting from you through the camera to the wet plate—its making direct contact, this is your physical photograph, this is a treasure—but really the process the experience is the gold, this rig of alchemy I haul around on my bike, the interaction between you and me trying to coax this miracle out of chemicals and contraptions and light.

Wet-plate fotography carries a tradition of mobility, adventure, exploration, engagement. In horsedrawn caravans or with giant backpacks, wet plate fotographers set off to document the Civil War, the Crimean War, and the unknown Great American West. In lieu of a horse, my motorcycle hauls my equipment and materials, and instead of wars I am documenting people.

PROJECT EXTENSION

RELAMPAGO as a project will continue when I take my rig south to Tijuana in collaboration with artist Alberto Caro to investigate and engage the people who make up our dynamic sister-city, and produce a second catalogue of images in a Newspaper format. Collaborating with another contemporary artist I will extend the possibilities of documenting and experimenting with wet-plate fotography.

HERE ARE THE PROJECT EXPENSES

Chemicals and materials---(collodion, silver nitrate and plates)

Publishing costs of the newspaper

Lighting---wet plate relies on daylight and long exposure times. With a strobe flash I'll be able to fotograph indoors and at night.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing funding platform. Encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to donate. You can spread the word by linking to the RELAMPAGO Kickstarter campaign on your Facebook profile and Twitter feed. This is a word-of-mouth campaign, and its success relies on people being aware of it.

Wet-plate fotography involves a lot of logistical, material and technical requirements inherent to the process. I work with a community of wet-plate fotographers whose enthusiasm and dedication to the craft will help insure my project has support, should technical problems arise.

The project is scheduled to last 3 months, to create the 40 plates I have planned within the given time frame I will have to shoot an average of 4 plates a week, which means I have a lot of ground to cover. I am using my extensive network of friends and colleagues to find people to collaborate with. I am also participating in Live Art in Death Valley, and have trips to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco lined up.

To make sure the catalogue is printed in best quality, I am using the highly reputable Newspaper Club as my printer. I am collaborating with Newspaper Club’s design staff to print on special 80 gsm paper and produce a craft-quality newspaper that will impress you with the feel of its paper and smell its pages, in the style of Monocle Alpino / Mediterraneo.

FAQ

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    RELAMPAGO COMES TO YOU (limited to Southern California) Be included as a subject in RELAMPAGO. Receive a printed version of the RELAMPAGO catalogue in craft newspaper format. Plus... Participate in a Wet-plate portrait party: a full day of shooting at a location of your choosing, 8 full-size 8" x 10" wet-plate fotos to keep, and introduction and walkthrough of the entire wet-plate process where you make a wet-plate foto of your own.

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    RELAMPAGO COMES TO YOU (anywhere in the U.S.) Be included as a subject in RELAMPAGO. Receive a printed version of the RELAMPAGO catalogue in craft newspaper format. Plus... Participate in a Wet-plate portrait party: a full day of shooting at a location of your choosing, 8 full-size 8" x 10" wet-plate fotos to keep, and introduction and walkthrough of the entire wet-plate process where you make a wet-plate foto of your own.

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    RELAMPAGO COMES TO YOU (anywhere in the World) Be included as a subject in RELAMPAGO. Receive a printed version of the RELAMPAGO catalogue in craft newspaper format. Plus... Participate in a Wet-plate portrait party: a full day of shooting at a location of your choosing, 8 full-size 8" x 10" wet-plate fotos to keep, and introduction and walkthrough of the entire wet-plate process where you make a wet-plate foto of your own.

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Funding period

- (30 days)