(2012) 12 Unstopped Cyanotype Prints
The content of photographs is commonly believed to be more “true” – that is, closer to reality – than that of other artistic media. To paraphrase Walter Benjamin, photographs insist on their indexical link with reality; that they contain something independent of the artist’s skill and will.
‘Iron Certainty’ explores the fallacy of this “common sense” belief about the relationship of photography to reality. Photographs are not analogues of reality; they do not only denote. The photographer is as much a creator and manipulator as any other artist; her work is just as much a construct as any sculpture, installation, or painting.
The fifteen cyanotype prints that comprise this work have been over-developed. As a result, it is impossible to tell from the prints what – if any – negative or object has been exposed. With the content redundant, only the means of representation remains – the blue residue of the photographic process, and the titles of the individual pieces. These titles – Unwashed, Pictorial, An Oak Tree, Prussian Blue, The Seduction, Before Death, Nude Reclining, The Rhetoric, Sapere Aude, The Machine, Self-Portrait, Flaneur, Reproduction, The Artist Empathises, Punctum – are examples of what Barthes calls “the rhetoric of the image”. They have no apparent relevance to the prints they pertain to, and yet, even leaving the viewer perplexed, they still fence-in how the image is read.
Meanwhile, since the light-sensitive chemical solution has not been washed off the paper, the prints may continue to change. Ironically, the process itself is the only certainty.