Nolan Preece: Chemigrams


The chemigram process is an equal mix of painting, printmaking and photography.  Chemigrams are made without the use of a camera and in full light on silver-based photographic materials. And like any other medium, the chemigram's visual vocabulary is solely dependent on the innovation and imagination of the artist.

Instead of paints and brushes, or chisels and wood or stone, the chemagramist uses photographic paper, developer, resists, water, non-hardening fixer and trays filled with these various liquids spread out across a work area.  Regardless of the age of the papers used, they must contain silver to react with the chemicals so that the process can be fully realized.  A darkroom is not necessary because chemigrams are made under incandescent or full light.

Chemigrams are initiated by applying resists to the surface of photographic paper.  Examples of resists are tape, acrylic finishes, and glue. Resists are a standard printmaking technique that inhibits and randomly allows the chemistry to work its way into the paper emulsion, producing the unique visual effects common to the chemigram. After the resist dries, the print is processed by cycling it between developer and fixer with a water rinse in between, in a series of similar fifteen minute cycles.  Later on, dried prints can be digitally scanned and modified with a computer to adjust color and contrast and increase the scale.



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