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Vanessa Carson's damaged negatives

"This series of photos were made out of admiration for texture and abstract photography. I had experimented with film soups before, but I wanted to see what it looked like when the emulsion peels away. So far, agitating the film and watching the emulsion float into different placements is my favourite part of this process, because it is so fluid and delicate, so the image is subject to change very easily. It is also very impermanent.

In the beginning my mixtures were measured and labeled, but at this point the date and mixture doesn't matter so much. There are plants and flowers that I place on top of the film to add to the mystery. I rely on checking on the negative strips, and watching it slowly peel away, while also sticking to rules from the past experiments. I add other components part way through its 'marinating' and also burn the negatives, so each image seems to look quite different. The element of surprise, spontaneity and curiosity never get old."

See more of Vanessa's work on instagram at @marleyblooms

A/A: What got you interested on photography?

VC: Taking a high school film photography class was what put me onto film photography, and for that I'm grateful. It was kinda something everyone did, there was a darkroom and a super kind teacher. We experimented with chemigrams, alternative processing and photo enlarger manipulations. While it took me many years after to pick up my own camera, this class was most likely a big influence. Before this, I do remember playing around with a little digital camera.

A/A: Why do you enjoy alternative processing?

VC: This is a difficult question to answer because I feel like sometimes it can be a very unconscious thing to experiment, or to enjoy the process of artmaking. What I mean is that what you are creating, is an expression, and sometimes this does not require deep concentration. It can be more sensory and intuitive. It asks you to pay attention for sure, and be present, but mostly being open to what happens, because it's not an art of perfection.

A/A: Did you soup the negatives before or after developing?

VC: These images were souped after developing!

A/A: Do you find your work has a theme?

VC: I'd imagine it is more clear looking from the outside, but I am drawn to texture, abstractions and mood. My work is predominantly of nature and there are simple conclusions to why this is, but also underlying themes in my life to do with life cycles and decay. The humbling process of being in nature and witnessing its overpowering but also delicate forces inspire me, so these are themes I try to express in my photography. During this year of covid, I did not stop taking photos, because nature prevailed and if anything, thrived.

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