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HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Abstract: Solarization

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The accidental rediscovery of solarization by Man Ray and his model and lover Lee Miller was a process that the Dadaists loved. They appreciated the fact that a new process could be found by the chance encounter of a foot with a mouse in the darkroom meaning light was urgently required and that the flash of light could convert the commonplace print into a new form of mysterious reality.
Solarization, the term Man Ray proposed, has nothing to do with the sun rather it is the 'Sabattier effect' (named after the French scientist Armand Sabattier who discovered it in 1862) that creates an image that is part negative and part positive and is created by exposing the print to light part way through the darkroom development process. The level of solarization is dependent upon the stage of development, the level of light the partially developed print is exposed to, and the amount of time it is exposed.
Ilse Bing, Maurice Tabard, and proponents of the very active Czech avant-garde movement of the 1920's including Jaroslav Rössler (1902-1990) experimented with solarization. Edmund Teske (1911-1996) was born too late to be involved in the flowering of the avant-garde but through his interests in music and Vedanta, the study of the Hindu Vedas, he developed a philosophical framework that blended into his photography. The constructs of time and space and their malleability could be expressed through alterations in photographic processes. The use of composite prints, where multiple negatives are combined to create a single image, was the photographic equivalent of merging space and time. To this he added what has been referred to as duotone solarization - where the final image has both black and white and brown and white solarized effects. His expertise in this process created images that subvert nature to create unnatural and yet beautiful photographs out of the mundane to empower them with emotional and almost sacred meanings. 



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