Setting a Pulse pairs photographs of lightning with cameraless prints depicting magnetic force—making energy visible between the lines and distilling multiple events of a storm into a single frame.
In recent years, earthen materials and weather systems have become a kind of laboratory for my work and a place to consider ideas of the invisible, the unknown, or obscured information. Whether a psychological realm existing between people, or a physical world such as underground root systems, the dense layers of a coal seam, trapped air within glacier ice, or the invisible force of magnetism, my work is a study in unseen worlds and hidden networks of information.
Included here are images from Setting a Pulse. Lightning images are created with long exposures to capture multiple strikes—compressing time into a single frame. Registering delicate capillaries with familiar patterning, works exist as both positive and negative. Original photograms (cameraless prints) representing magnetism were made in an analog darkroom using a variety of vintage and contemporary gelatin silver papers. Existing and collected metals, earth, rocks, and river silt were placed in direct contact with the photographic paper, rearranged by magnetic force and captured with light. Larger works are scanned, enlarged and worked with media.
Working with physical matter (silt, rock, iron) activated by magnets, hidden forces are revealed between the lines, patterns repeat while particles and energy reorganize themselves. Within this process, the solid materials of this world seem to transform into a kind of fabricated or imagined landscape made from physical components of specific environments. Material structure also impacts the artifact of the work. For the photograms water disfigures the paper, silt stains the surface, rocks scratch the emulsion, and the prints become a kind of register, embedding the experience of the making as well as the element itself.
The eastern New Mexico high plains, where multiple storm cells can be visible at once across the dry, flat horizon; where the land has been mined, carved, and tested upon; and where riverbeds are dry with water re-routed, has given me a new way to understand energies and systems both internal and external—as metaphor and as natural phenomena. Beyond the science and materiality of attraction/repulsion, reversing polarities and energetic pulses, I’m interested in the psychology of how these currents run through our internal lives: how we weather storms, how we’re attracted to and repelled from one another energetically, or affected by both positive and negative events.
My process involves both traditional photography as well as making work in direct contact with the environment. The images here, mostly two-dimensional works, represent the flat desert landscape and are worked with gold, silver, mica, graphite—materials mined, forged, or extracted and which themselves conduct energy. When applied to the image surface these materials can shine or become practically invisible, depending on lighting and perspective, encoding and activating the surface with a sense of material agency.
The raw materials of this world can hold the memory of the planet—each in its own form, and can be a kind of portal to another time or perspective. In prior series, I’ve worked with coal, millions of years old, or glacier ice with preserved air from hundreds of thousands of years ago. In Setting a Pulse, river silt originates as well-traveled rock and iron exists deep inside the earth generating a magnetic field of protection. These works, while informed by science or natural phenomena, are not science. They are more imagination and an access point to consider the deeper questions of how we relate to the world and where we are in time—a byproduct of exploration.
Image at top: Shoshannah White, Lightning #3, pigment print on panel with wax, graphite, silver and gold leaf, 36 x 36 in.
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