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Black images

Monday, 23 February 2015 20:50 Written by Iliana Ortega

My current art practice explores how darkness frames light. To capture photos for this exploration, I move slowly through the nocturnal urban landscape, dedicating close attention to the workings of artificial light in the nighttime city. I print pure black pigment prints using a very high black contrast. The results are prints that are almost black -- with just a subtle suggestion of light in the landscape. I then scratch these prints with drill bits to create a different version of the abstract image. These scratches simulate reflection or the illusion of light inside the photographic composition. Upon completion, the majority of the prints have characteristics of abstract images provided by shapes of black over black with small protrusions from the under-layer of white paper. By using this technique, I evoke a strong relationship between the formal elements of photography and those of drawing -- visually relating both to the natural landscape and exploring how they might reinforce and complement one another. My ultimate goal in using these techniques is to uncover the profound relationship between fictionality, representation, and the real. This work and research on darkness has led me to seek out places that provide me with strong natural darkness -- with limited light -- creating a mysterious beauty that equates itself with silence.

I was fortunate enough to travel to Iceland in the beginning of 2011. This journey gave me the chance to experiment with all of the phenomena described above. I was able to take photographs throughout the southwest of the island, many of which embody the qualities I went in search of. After the trip, I possessed greater insight into the impact of the environment on the mental processes behind the making of art. I grew to appreciate the depth of the connection between the landscape of Iceland and the photographs I took there – a connection that goes beyond simple or reducible explanations. I began taking pictures of New England based on the qualities of the winter season, emphasizing the presence of snow and the resulting play of reflected light. This art project mixes elements of the traditional landscape with formal issues of drawing. I am exploring different ways one might develop a visual narrative where fiction, artifice, beauty, blackness, and whiteness work together.

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