Shaina Gates

Figures & Artifacts

My colorful Artifact prints and transparent folded Figure sculptures are made using a variety of black and white photographic films and papers. Each one is a unique photogram, made without the use of cameras or digital technology. In this experimental photographic work, I am exploring my fascination with surface, dimensionality, and the visualization of material phenomena. 

Lumen printing is an alternative/experimental photographic method, which uses black and white photographic paper (i.e. silver gelatin paper) and exposure to UV light to produce a range of color, depending on the specific type of paper being used.

When this paper is used for its intended purpose in a darkroom, it is exposed for less than a minute, and then developed to reveal a black and white image. Certain paper types are meant to produce a finer grain, or a more contrasty print, or a warmer shade of black…etc. Each of these effects depends on differences in the paper’s silver gelatin emulsion formula.

In the lumen printing process, I am instead exposing the paper to sunlight for an extended period of time, ranging from a few minutes to a few hours. The ultraviolet light causes the silver halide particles in the paper to change into visible metallic silver, which is seen as the print darkens over the course of exposure. The wide variation in color is due to the differences in each paper's emulsion formula, which affects the reaction between the UV and the silver. The range of color is also affected by the quality of light, temperature, color filtration, and duration of exposure. Finally, instead of the typical 4-step development process, these lumen prints are only fixed and washed to preserve the image.

My film sculpture Figures are made in a similar way, instead using various types of large format B&W photographic film (typically used in large format cameras). I began experimenting with film in this way after working with the lumen printing process. My initial attempts using film produced remarkable results in terms of their color and vibrancy. Through measured trial and error, and the creative determination spurred by that initial discovery, I learned how to reliably identify film types that are responsive to this process. 

By placing my folded film sculptures on the paper to expose as lumen prints, the paper records an image through the various layers of colorful transparent material. The film pieces act as “negatives” for the Artifact prints. - Shaina Gates

- On view through June 7th -

Figure #142 Quick shop
Figure #63 Quick shop
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Figure X(6556) Quick shop
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