Falling Colours

Do you remember photographic paper? I mean the old fashioned light-sensitive monochrome or chromogenic silver-halide coated paper upon which you develop images with various liquid chemicals. I don't mean what they call photo-paper these days (e.g. for inkjet printers).

Mariah Robertson is at Baltic until the end of October.

Not for her the ten by eight print. She uses industrial sized rolls of the stuff. A meter or so wide and hundreds of meters long. The so-called 'law' of supply and demand would suggest that this stuff is now incredibly cheap because nobody's buying it. Who's doing chemical photography any more? The truth is the reverse of this (strange how often the laws of economics fail you) because of the ever rising price of silver halides. People are still doing analog, film-based photography, but they're developing only the negatives and digitally scanning them. Use of enlargers and paper has pretty much gone.

Be that as it may, that it must cost a small (or even moderately substantial) fortune to produce these works, are you thinking of this cost when you look at the results? Clearly I cannot know what's in your mind but I'd say not. They're more fascinating than they have any right to be. They look mostly like accidents involving much chemical spillage, but the colours are fabulously glassy (the paper is glossy, not matte or that 'orrible 'satin' finish) and radiate, emanate, in a way which my poor digital photographic record ironically fails to capture.

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