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 Works on Paper

scanographs of unique paper objects

Paper is an endangered medium. It is a technological tool, an essential partner in the evolution of civilization. It is the preeminent vehicle for personal expression, the dissemination of information, ideas, and thoughts, both personal and social. Now, almost all forms of personal expression can go from conception to archive without ever touching a material/physical surface. Works on Paper examines the intimacy and beauty of the hand or print mark (typewriter/printer), and the use of a medium, which in time, may pass into obscurity.


I began this series in 2004 with original documents - letters, postcards, small notes, musical scores, and found ephemera. As a photographer I am always concerned about paper(s) and its characteristics in printing. I was inspired to do this because of its fading use in many areas of my life.


Each paper artifact becomes the media itself. To create the images, I use the digital flatbed scanner as a camera and treat the paper as if it was film. It is backlit during the scanning process just as flim or a slide would be. What results is a translucent image of both sides of the paper. Similar to a paper negative or photogram (think of William Henry Fox Talbot’s 1840 photogram of a Byron poem), this photographic process  that has grown in use over the past decade and has been dubbed “scanography”.


Scanography:Using the scanner as the camera, is a rediscovery of image making. It's reminiscent or mirrors, in both process and aesthetics, the historic images of those first photograms and cyanotypes. Particularly in the use of botanical objects, which to me is not surprising.


For some primordial reason when a new image making process or technique is created we innocently throw nature onto its surface, as some kind of ongoing test. Perhaps looking to see if it can match our own perceptual abilities and/or move beyond it. Scanography, to my estimation has come the closest to fulfilling this goal. Rather than a still life or a photographic documentation, through this process, the found papers and letters are transformed into portraits. In a sense it depicts their humanity.

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