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  • Writer's pictureRitchard Allaway

12/03/2024 - Revisiting Negatives

19th - 22nd February 2024

Experimental: Revisiting Negatives, Printing & colourisation

This conversational entry discusses recent exploration of earlier film negatives that I have created across the past four to five months. My reasoning behind this entry is to just create a dialogue with myself as to why I revisited these negatives in a manner that would become experimental whilst considering ways of presenting such work.

At the time of me revisiting these negatives, I had my film 'Narrating the Geographies....' exhibiting at the Pineapple Black gallery and I was also in a state of flux, moving within elements of the research (practical and theoretical). It is safe to say, the state I was in was exciting and continues to be very exciting to this day, as I can see a wonderful development occurring within the research. As a research student I like to have this ever growing lists of tasks to do/look into and complete, and from my experiments with film and layering sound I made my negative electrical prints into a looped short film. That outcome was interesting and again something to explore further, but I felt like my negs existed as digital scans and nothing else.

I returned to the dark room and set out to re-enlarge my electrical current negatives to a better grade and enhance certain points of contrast. My goal was to make a crisper print and one that could also be scanned at a hi-resolution enabling further developmental factors to be explored. Working on 5x7 resin coated paper I set my easel to 4x4, to initiate a balanced crop, but I left a white border around the image to encourage negative space to play a role in the final print. The enlarger was set to f/stop 5.6 and the exposure time was around 12 seconds. After exposure and wet tray development (banned myself from using the Colenta), the prints were hung up to dry.

Below I have set out the developed re-prints. You can see that the prints have developed well with some excellent contrast showing between electrical current and the negative space. Several images have developed a rich developed black that I am pleased to have achieved. With the type of imagery I am producing, it is very difficult to produce rich blacks because of the light emitting from electrical current, and this is why some of prints demonstrate greyer tones due exposure to light from each electrical spark.

The strands and 'roots' of the electrical current is well visualised throughout each image which is wonderful to see. Earlier negative rolls and developed prints did not have a consistent clarity as such and were out of focus and foggy reducing the impact of the electrical current. These latest prints have brought into focus a system of strands, stems, roots (yet to be given a title for the research) throughout each print, evidencing the exoelectrogen soil-system network extracted through my E.Bs and translated into a form of alternative photography... very exciting indeed!

My initial thoughts were to scan the prints in at 1200 dpi and then have them be printed onto a gloss or matt vinyl to a scale large enough that an audience could view each soil-system easily. Unfortunately due to the nature of the negative and the print, I was unable to really push the scale of the print to no more than A3. Any further and the image would pixilate quite heavily. I do however enjoy the multitude of 4x4 prints stacked together side by side and on top. This arrangement almost demonstrates constant shift in electrical current through the soil and shifting and migration of living eco-systems within landscapes.

As I stated earlier, I scanned in the developed prints to a hi-res enabling me to have the freedom to digitally experiment with them at a later stage. And to be completely honest with this colourisation, I was just sat in Adobe Lightroom and began moving the sliders up and down... to my surprise a ensemble of gradients in tone and depth started to appear throughout the space within the print. This colour acted in a way that it lifted the electrical strands from the background, producing clear depth, almost giving the print a sense of 3dimensional appearance, a sort of nebula landscape.

To be continued...

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