Anthotypes by John Opera


E-2 anthotype (blueberry) – 2010

9.25 x 7.5 inches

An anthotype is a photographic image created using the photosensitive materials in plant matter and exposure from direct sunlight.


D-2 anthotype (beet) – 2010

9.25 x 7.5 inches


C-3 anthotype (pokeberry) – 2010

9.25 x 7.5 inches


B-5 anthotype (blueberry) – 2010

9.25 x 7.5 inches


I-1 anthotype (blueberry) – 2010

9.25 x 7.5 inches


G-4 anthotype (beet) – 2010

9.25 x 7.5 inches


F-5 anthotype (beet) – 2010

9.25 x 7.5 inches

The Anthotype harkens back to the seminal moments of photography’s prehistory. During the mid 1800s, it was discovered that pigmented solutions derived from various flower and fruit extracts are light sensitive enough to be used as rudimentary print emulsions. This process takes up to three weeks of exposure in direct sunlight to render an image. The process was quickly abandoned when silver nitrate was discovered to have a much faster reaction time.

Extending his deep interest in the natural world and its possibilities, John Opera forages his own fruits and vegetables to create natural dyes in many of the same locations that his previous photographs were captured. He has incorporated a direct relationship to nature as an essential part of the process in making these new works.

The complex natural forms that are the subjects of his Anthotypes are photograms (or contact prints) of ink-on-water drawings that have been created as fleeting compositions in a glass tray. He records the compositions on film in order to make a negative. The negatives are digitally enlarged for use during the very lengthy process of making the prints.

Opera’s intention is to use the Anthotype process first to emphasize the dialectic between photography’s surface qualities and its qualities as illusionistic and indexical space. These works also make reference to the inherent relationship between liquid chemical reactions inside the natural world and their connected activity that brings a traditional photographic image into being.

Anthotypes by John Opera. (1975, Chicago)

Showing until May 14, 2011 at the Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, IL.

Thanks AB

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