Curatorial Projects > EcoArchive: Mediations on Time and Nature (2010-11)

Chris McCaw
Unique gelatin silver paper negatives
Courtesy of the artist & Stephen Wirtz Gallery

1) Sunburned GSP #432 (Pacific Ocean), 2010
2) Sunburned GSP #433 (Crater Lake), 2010
3) Sunburned GSP#112 (Nevada), 2008
4) Sunburned GSP #435 (Nevada), 2010
5) Sunburned GSP #437 (Washington), 2010
6) Sunburned GSP #434 (Mojave), 2010
7) Sunburned GSP #436 (Nevada/near summer solstice), 2010

McCaw investigates the primal side of photography by using its most basic components - a lens, time, and light. While attempting to photograph the night sky several years ago, McCaw fell asleep and woke up too late to end the exposure, discovering that the rising sun produced a violent change in his negative. He learned to control this change to create unique, first-generation images that engage the sun itself as a collaborative partner in the photographic process, a series entited Sunburn.

He creates hand-built cameras of varying sizes, designed to accommodate vintage gelatin silver B&W paper in place of film, with special military-reconnaissance optics. The intense light naturally solarizes the paper, wherein negative becomes positive through extreme over-exposure.  What remains is evidence of the passage of time, rendered with a destructive mark as the exposure process scorches, scars, and stains the paper.

EcoArchive: Meditations on Time and Nature

November 3, 2010 – January 22, 2011
Intersection for the Arts
San Francisco, CA

Photo credit: Scott Chernis