The large-format photographic exposures of Exhume were created by a darkroom process utilizing equisized negatives made of velum paper. Each negative contained only a fragment of the final compositions. These negatives were arranged sequentially within my exposure device’s five successive trays. When operated, light would illuminate a sheet of photosensitive paper. The negatives control where light could react with the surface of the photosensitive paper and also where light would be blocked entirely. Distance from the negative to the photographic paper drastically alters what final exposure will occur. Increased distance between the two points causes the final image to be exposed out of focus, while a negative that is in direct contact with the photographic paper will be exposed with crisp detail. Because of this occurrence, the negatives utilized in making an exposure from this machine come into focus as they are arranged in an ascending order. Each photographic print on display has been created utilizing three to five overlaid negatives during the darkroom process. At this time process ends and content begins.
The emotional gravity of the expansive black is immediate. While not only suspending the foreground in a void, this element possesses significance by being the product of photographic exposure. Black serves conceptually as the disintegration of all possibility. Negative space is transformed into an abyss of ruined potential. Disturbed by the viewer’s gaze, the foreground emerges from the abyss like remains unearthed from a grave. Deformities and departures from the ordinary are found in the images which cause a voyeuristic experience that only causes a viewer to analyze the images further.
These photographic exposures show the intertwined relationship between the uncanny, the abject, and the captivating nature of images. Most individuals see the addition of something that is not familiar, or any variation to common conception as a negative effect. When faced with the abject, repulsion and intrigue are engaged in a vicious altercation. The outcome of this conflict is either the viewer’s rejection or a desire to peer deeper into the uncanny. The grotesque as a tool in art is often met with repugnant reaction. This reaction may shock or close off the viewer’s perspective. Once this has transpired, the conversation between the object and abject, between the viewer and work is terminated. The termination of this conversation is what I have attempted to avoid or at least prolong.
The viewer, during this visual conflict, attempts to justify what has been presented. These compositions possess all elements of a congruous mien. The malformations separate the abject and cripples the viewer’s attempts to rectify the areas of conflict. The abject, when combined with the uncanny, becomes appealing. This combination flirts around the shallow ends of our desire and sparks the inclination to delve further into what is mysterious. A viewer compelled by the uncanny to confront the abyss of the inexplicable unknown does not search with the intention to unearth something pleasant. The appeal of the abject lies within its insurmountable difference from the object. When viewing these images, individuals will attempt to empathize. However, this effort to understand will become molded by the abject. Deformities become visual manifestations of our innermost contempt, fears, or insecurities. The conflict between the viewer’s attraction and repulsion for these works is a conduit for those self-relevant moments. These images serve as an exploration of the uncanny, as a visual litmus test for the tolerable and as a bridge to conversations about topics that would otherwise be driven from the realm of the acceptable.