Challenging perception

My attention was brought to an article today (thanks Daral Brennan via Falmouth Flexible Facebook group) about Mariah Robertson, who is part of the J. P. Morgan PhotoPlay: Lucid Objects show at this week’s Paris Photo. It describes her as making “making photographs the hard way”, i.e. without a camera.

Of course, being someone who also makes her work, on the whole, without a camera I was intrigued to read on.

The article asserts that her images are often mistaken for abstract paintings – I can see why.

©Mariah Robertson. 34, 2016, Unique chemical treatment on RA-4 paper 84 x 72 inches, JPMorgan Chase Art Collection

I am most definitely drawn to her work, but it was her explanation of not wanting to be complacent, that when something gets too comfortable she will change tack that I found most intriguing.

For my Harena Now project, I am focussing on the cyanotype process, mainly due to being able to wash it out in the ocean as I work and non- fixed lumen printing whereby I minimise my photo-chemical impact by simply rinsing the paper of the sand I use to make the imprints, dabbing dry and scanning before storing in the dark. But I have wondered if I need to consider new ways to make work – am I too complacent in my methods and abilities.

The above show my latest experiments with sand and seawater using the techniques I have been developing. With the lumen printing, I often auto-tone in Photoshop to create otherworldly images and represent the major change the human hand can have on what it touches or creates. Not being one for spending too much time at a computer, I have started to find that I have been drawn to the 3D element of Photoshop – I have never used it before, and need to teach myself how to use it much better but it is providing a new element to my work.

The poem, Auguries of Innocence by William Blake begins with the line “To see a World in a Grain of Sand” and this 3D investigation is, if nothing more, a means to challenge my comfort zone. The image below is of the bottom right picture above.

week7 copy

Robertson states that, “When you plan things too much, they get contrived. The wheel of the mind is powerful, but can be limiting. I want to be on the lookout for what is actually happening and be responsive to that. It’s like pushing and then getting out of the way.”

I love working in a way that the outcome is hard to predict, and with an attitude of “let’s see” and therefore I understand where Robertson is coming from.

I’m also taken with the raggedy edges of the photo paper on display in the J P Morgan Chase art collection (watch the video in the link below) – something I’ve being doing with my lumen work but in my last work-in-progress portfolio I didn’t include, probably as I subconsciously thought it may be seen as not high standard enough. I won’t make that mistake again.



Falmouth Flexible closed Facebook group. Avaialble at: [accessed November 10, 2017].

J.P.Morgan. ‘Redefining the photograph’. Available at: [accessed November 10, 2017].