Kathleen Bishop

Artist’s Statement

Ordinary Miracles

These images are studies of ordinary places that are representative of collective ideas

about transcending and failing to transcend the quotidian existence of daily life.

Apparently prosaic scenes contain cultural signifiers of transcendence from the temporal

to the spiritual. Each image is a singular photograph that suggests varying degrees of

success or failure to permeate this threshold. They are taken in the documentary tradition,

with only minor adjustments in post production, but their subject matter is suggestive of a

borderland that exists between mundane and spiritual spaces. They document man’s

interventions in the landscape that reveal real world failures of utopian blueprints. The

empirical reality of a single recorded moment must necessarily fail to transcend the

temporal, just as our outward existence in everyday life must occur in the mundane. Both

the camera and our eyes have an inherent limitation to see only the concrete objects

before them. This impenetrable threshold is sometimes idyllic and at other times

unsettling. They are representations of ordinary miracles hidden in the landscape of

everyday life.

 

Ordinary Miracles (Caffenol)

Caffenol has become my developer of choice, both for film and paper. It is a staining

developer that gives results similar to the coveted but toxic pyro formulas, and has lower

toxicity and a superior tonal range than most commercially available developers. The

film formula is an established one, but those for darkroom papers and Ortho Litho film,

(which I use in 4x5 cameras) I have formulated for optimum results.

Silver gelatin prints are made and scanned for output as archival inkjet prints of any size,

or be emailed as digital files to an exhibition, where they are either printed locally or

displayed as projections. Retouching can be done in Photoshop, taking advantage of the

precise control available in the software. Images are printed on a textured matte Photo

Rag paper, an aesthetic that I prefer, and one that is not available with commercially

produced darkroom papers. The combination of Caffenol and a hybrid process is my way

of reimagining film photography and the role of large format camera use in a

contemporary and experimental practice.

 

Ordinary Miracles (Femme)

The images in Femme are visual discussions on the experience of being a woman

in contemporary society. They are unaltered street scenes depicting objects that

communicate ideas about female identity, both as individuals and in the mirror of

society’s gaze. Some are voyeuristic, showing female forms unclothed in public spaces

that speaks to the objectification of women, while others contain writing, signs and other

visual elements that tell a story about how women interact with the world around them in

the context of their gender identity. These images are captured with either an iPhone or

pocket digital camera in my daily travels. They are my visual diary of scenes that

resonate with me personally, and are also reflective of collective thoughts of other

women and the impact of ideas and cultural stereotypes imposed on women by society.

 

Ordinary Miracles (Cyanotypes)

The Cyanotypes series begin as iPhone or "point and shoot" LoFi digital images. The

contemporary subject matter and use of a modern "pocket" camera to make the images

gives a modern update to a classic printing technique. One of a kind small handmade

Cyanotype prints are created from these files on Rives BFK paper stock. Each print is

then scanned digitally and printed on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper. Like it's LoFi digital

counterpart, the Cyanotype was, in its day, a cheap and easy print reproduction technique

that was used to make bargain rate prints, proof prints for more expensive photo

processes, and blueprints for architects. It is somehow reassuring to reclaim the value of

an individual image taken with a modern "pocket" camera, so often thought of as

disposable, and preserve it as a valued object utilizing an often underappreciated analog

photo technique that was, in it’s time, also considered as a "disposable" image making

process. The process of creating handmade prints is for me a pleasurable pause in a world

that demands digital precision and instant gratification, while the incorporation of digital

reproduction allows for an infinite number of presentation options, again taking the

strengths of analog and digital and reimaging a working process that is relevant in a

contemporary context.