My senior thesis project Vestige is a photographic examination of the collective human desire to document our existence, and the false security that comes with such documentation. The project began out of a personal need to connect with others and as a chance to break away from the self-portrait work that comprised most of my undergrad portfolio. As the project progressed it felt less like a way to connect, in some ways creating more distance between myself and the subject. Through research of contemporary artists and the writings of French philosopher Rolande Barthes the body of work has morphed into a reminder that a photograph is nothing more than reflected light captured in light sensitive materials; in this case traditional silver gelatin. Though we treat photographs as some sort of hyper-real, they are as Barthes says nothing more than “a new form of hallucination.” By creating an impossible space for the subject to exist in, I am trying to remind the viewer that the subject does not exist within the image like we think they do. The image is nothing but a chemical reaction between light reactive particles and a base chemical.
The use of analog materials is important because it not only creates a dichotomy between the real and the hallucination, but reminds the viewer further of the falsehood of all photographic mediums, not just photoshop. The process is slow and methodical, consisting of hours in front of a light table layering negatives to find visually stimulating imagery that obscures the subject yet enhances them at the same time. The use of film and traditional methods also ensures longevity of the work. If taken care of properly, film negatives and silver gelatin prints will survive a century. Digital files on the other hand corrupt easily, especially as technologies advance and change exponentially. Most of the imagery created in this digital age is expected to corrupt and disappear leaving a large gap and disparity in imagery for future beings to study. Unless meticulous care is taken to take pictures in a lossless file format and constant hard drive backups, most of what is taken on your cellphone won’t be viewable in as little as 50 years.
“What the Photograph reproduces to infinity has occurred only once: the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially.” —Rolande Barthes, Camera Lucida
See more images www.aylaleroyce.com