Wet Plate Collodion project on current recession
short 4 minute video.
longer version 14 minutes.
Ladies and Gentleman, let me introduce my new project, Great Depression 1912-13! I have been thinking for a long time to make a project that would incorporate wet plate collodion technique beyond the technological and aesthetic fascination. I wanted to make a concept where wetplate process would be a foundation of the concept, not a picture effect in the sense “geee, that looks so cool…”
And this is it. Project Great Depression 1912-13 is a documentary photography project where in wet plate technique I’m documenting state of a bankrupt companies with an emphasize on things that people left behind after they have been working there for decades.
Why the title Great Depression 1912-13? My aim is to make a picture series that would look old, ancient, as a document of an event that happened long, long time ago. I want that viewers will get the feeling that this sort of events happened like hundred years ago and since then society has learned the lesson and this sort of things can not happen to us, to a modern man in 21st Century.
The old bellow camera and wet plate technique is perfect to embed in pictures emotional detachment from the event. To prove my point, just think how great does it look a mugshot of Lewis Powel, the Lincon’s assassin photographed by Alexander Gardner and compare it to a contemporary mugshot of a murderer. It’s not (solely) the photographical technique that makes you feel different looking at a contemporary mug shot in comparison to a historical mugshot, it’s the knowing that murderer from a 19th Century mugshot is harmless, whereas a mugshot of a contemporary murderer is scary, since you can easily imagine that it could hurt you.
Of course in my picture series Great Recession 1912-13 I’m not hiding that this pictures are contemporary, just the opposite. I’m emphasizing the tension between the title and aesthetic elements on one side and documentary features on the other side.
I started the project in company Novoles that is about 500 meters from where I grew up. For me it’s important to start small, local and now I want to go to photograph larger stories. I have a wish list of international companies that I want to photograph, like the airport of Ciudad Real in Spain and of course Kodak company in Rochester, NY.
Let me finish with an anecdote. I’ve been photographing the entrance of Novoles and although I liked my first plate, it was full of mistakes. I’ve been working for another hour to make three technical nearly perfect photographs, but then I picked the first one. It’s perfect just as unperfected it is! And that happened to me many times!
Large images you can see on my site www.borutpeterlin.com