As an artist I’m always interested in making images that remind people of not just the past, or present, but also the future. In the Spring of 2021, I spent nearly six weeks photographing in the Louisiana Bayou*2 in the southern part of the United States. Its distinctive natural environment reminds me of an undeveloped forest. A quiet, breathtaking scene reflected on an extremely slow– moving stream has a way of deadening the sense of time.
Unlike the pictures that digital devices show us today, this mid–1800s photographic method often creates blur and un-sharp images. There will be streaks of chemicals; sometimes images are partially peeled off, and even show a vignette all around the image. As I wandered further and deeper and continued photographing, I was caught by that the idea that images I’m making utilizing this process are similar to visions what we have in our minds as memories, because; there were always huge gaps between what I remember and what my smartphone shows. My memory is often a blur, partially focused and even fading out as time goes by. Using a very thin glass as film also emphasizes its own vulnerability. Today, digital devices store tremendous amounts of information, but I believe that what really matters in the end is what we remember in our own mind.
I often photograph in areas that people can easily access. So, I can see people passing by in the glass view finder of my large format camera. But, with the long exposure time of the Collodion Process, they never appear in the image.
This juxtaposition between everlasting nature and our ephemeral existence reminds me of a future vision; of a post–human landscape. It has been here long before us, and will be here long after us.
*1 Wet–‐Collodion (Glass) Process
The collodion process is an early photographic process. The collodion process, mostly synonymous with the “collodion wet plate process”, requires the photographic material to be coated, sensitized, exposed and developed within the span of about fifteen minutes, necessitating a portable darkroom for use in the field. Collodion is normally used in its wet form, but can also be used in dry form, at the cost of greatly increased exposure time. The latter made the dry form unsuitable for the usual portraiture work of most professional photographers of the 19th century. The use of the dry form was therefore mostly confined to landscape photography and other special applications where minutes–‐long exposure times were tolerable.
A bayou (/ˈbaɪ.oʊ/ or /ˈbaɪjuː/) is a Franco–‐English term used in the United States for a body of water typically found in a flat, low–‐lying area, and can refer either to an extremely slow–‐moving stream or river (often with a poorly defined shoreline), or to a marshy lake or wetland. The name “bayou” can also refer to a creek whose current reverses daily due to tides and which contains brackish water highly conducive to fish life and plankton. Bayous are commonly found in the Gulf Coast region of the southern United States, notably the Mississippi River Delta, with the states of Louisiana and Texas being famous for them.