THE METEMPSYCHOSIS AND THREE GRACES WORKSHOPS
Jessie & Sally Mann w/ Liz Ligouri & Sam Krisch
Metempsychosis, or the “transmigration of souls”, and the sense of continual searching, if not for adventure, was largely inspired by Joyce’s reinvention of an ancient tale as a Modern classic , guided the in collaborative project in which Sally and Jessie Mann (mother and daughter) and laser artist, Liz Liguori, make paintings on laser-exposed photographic paper, and paintinged over a selection Sally Mann’s famous landscape photographs. The works are diptychs that announce a new collaborative identity and a cosmological universe that the artists declare as their world.
"She swallowed a draught of tea from her cup held by not-handle and, having wiped her fingertips smartly on the blanket, began to search the text with the hairpin till she reached the word.
– Met him what? he added.
– Here, she said. What does that mean?
He leaned downward and read near her polished thumbnail.
– Yes. Who’s he when he’s at home?
– Metempsychosis, he said, frowning. It’s Greek: from the Greek. That means the transmigration of souls.
– O, rocks! she said. Tell us in plain words."
- Ulysses, James Joyce
Photo developer and laser imaging on photographic rag paper
A Performance of John Cage’s STEPS: A Composition For A Painting To Be Performed By Individuals And Groups, 2011
Mountain Lake Workshop Participant’s Footprints by:
John Cage "STEPS" Performance Triptych, Metempsychosis & Three Graces Workshop, 2011
The Development of the Electromagnetogram Process
An “electromagnetogram” is a photographic print made without a camera, using a method which combines aspects of photography, lighting, and painting. The name is derived from the use of a laser (light amplification by stimulated electromagnetic radiation) to expose photographic paper. This process was developed for the Mountain Lake Workshop by my collaborator, Jessie Mann, and myself as a creative solution to combine Mann’s practice as a painter and my own practice as a lighting and multimedia artist. We used the electromagnetogram process to co-direct the Metempsychosis and the Three Graces workshops that included photographs by Jessie’s mother, photographer Sally Mann, and a darkroom performance of John Cage’s STEPS. In the electromagnetogram process unexposed photographic paper is laid out under the safe light of the darkroom. The process begins with Jessie Mann applying fixer — the chemical used in the typical development process for “fixing” a photographic image, making it insensitive to further action by light. She does this with her hand, with a flick of fingers creating a gestural splatter very much in her style as a painter. I watch her movements and sense the approximate placement of the colorless chemistry (which is indiscernible on the surface in low-light conditions), and respond with gestures of light refracted and diffracted from a beam of coherent monochromatic light — a laser. The laser allows me to “paint” with light by exposing areas of the paper surface that remain photosensitive (have not been spattered with fixer). Combining the use of prisms, refraction and diffraction techniques, and filters allows for overall control of the tones and saturation. The final print then becomes a record of both painterly effects and the movement of the light across the surface. With a few exceptions, the rest of the process is much like the black and white darkroom process. The developer and the stop bath (fixer) usually are applied by submerging the paper in a bath in a large tray. Initially we used the same 60-inch-long wooden trough that was originally built for John Cage’s STEPS performance as a “tray” for our photo bath. With the help of five or six pairs of hands, the large sheet was fed through the trough of chemicals in a kind of rolling submersion. Then we realized we could also use the development process in a painterly way to better control the tone and saturation of each print while still leaving the paper surface open to last-minute opportunities for unanticipated effects. From that point on, we began applying all the chemistry by hand except for the final fixer bath that stops further development of the image. This process thus was both an artistic choice and our practical solution to developing the very large prints for the STEPS performance workshop in Sally Mann’s modest-sized wet plate colloidal darkroom without having custom-built trays.
Three Graces Digital Montage Project
Sam Krisch & Mountain Lake Workshop, May 2013 – August 2013
A daylong on-site workshop directed at “Three Graces” by Sam Krisch and open to community participation, assisted by Ray Kass and Ryan Broughman. Four large digital prints incorporating digital camera and phone-camera images contributed by thirteen community participants were produced in September 2013
“Three Graces” is a Mountain Lake Workshop collaborative art project and accompanying digital video documentary with photographer Sally Mann and her daughter, the artist and painter, Jessie Mann, laser/light artist, Liz Liguori, with a special workshop event to be lead by Sam Krisch, a digital photographer and Adjunct Curator for Photography at theTaubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia. A daylong on-site workshop directed at “Three Graces” by Sam Krisch and open to community participation, assisted by Ray Kass and Ryan Broughman. Four large digital prints incorporating digital camera and phone-camera images contributed by thirteen community participants were produced in September 2013