James Hajicek & Carol Panaro-Smith:
Earth and Sea Vegetation 2
Over the last several years Carol Panaro-Smith and I have been working collaboratively using the process known as photogenic drawing – one of photography’s earliest and most beautiful. It is also one of the most simple and direct processes that defines the very core of photography without recourse to the normally thought of requisite equipment and materials.
Plants that we either dug from the earth or collected from the sea are exposed in contact with hand-coated light sensitive paper. This organic material withers under the intense heat and light of the Arizona sun as it completes its final act of participation in the creation of its own image.
As we continued to work with variations of William Henry Fox Talbot’s basic chemical formulas, we discovered that altering the variables of the light sensitive solutions, the chemistry in the paper, the intensity and accompanying heat of the light, and the chemicals emerging from the organic material, a color palette and physical presence emerged in the final print creating an ‘organic artifact’ beyond the imagination of anything previously thought of as photographic.
Each unique print will continue to transform with minor color shifts and the development of surface patinas as it remains alive, in a sense, changing and responding to its environment. This organic nature of the print, as it continues a process of transmutation over time, is a major conceptual component of this work.
In trying to strip everything extraneous from the photographic process and get to the very magic at its source, we have found ourselves in an arena ruled by serendipity, elusive mysteries, fugitive images, and the ruling master of all – the ultimate impermanence of everything.
We believe that photography - born in part out of our collective desire for permanence, a final proof, perhaps, for our own existence - presents us with only fleeting images, momentary reflections, and finally, our own impermanence. The closer one tries to get to the sacred nature of photography’s source, the more one is asked to accept that irony. This conceptual irony is, however, combined with the beauty, rarity, and luminance of newly completed works with colors, the nature of which we have yet to fully understand.
We have taken great care to produce these prints in the most archival method possible without altering their inherent organic essence. We believe that it is important that anyone interested in owning this work understand and accept these fundamental concepts.