Lately, I have been fascinated by the idea that there is sometimes hidden information in photos, more than what we see when we first look at them. I’ve been working on two projects that try to unpack some of this additional information.


Browsing Wikipedia idly one afternoon, I came across a color photograph of soldiers in World War I that didn’t look hand-colored, which struck me as odd. A little further research brought me to the work of Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii, a pioneering Russian photographer who developed a process for taking color pictures in the first decade of the 20th century.

Essentially he would make three black-and-white exposures through colored filters, and then print the results on top of one another in complimentary-colored layers (red->cyan, green->magenta, blue->yellow). I was captivated by the otherworldly quality of his images, so I decided to try a version of his technique, using digital photography and screen printing.

His goal was to capture the world in its true colors, and he succeeded brilliantly; his photographs are also invaluable historical documents, providing a unique glimpse of the Russian empire just before the revolution. But I soon found that the aspect that interested me most  was the temporal quality of it - that, since each color came from a separate original, taken at a separate time, things standing still were rendered in lifelike shades, but anything moving created bursts of weird and unreal color. 

I have also occasionally modified the process by using unfiltered exposures printed on top of one another in cyan, magenta and yellow - in that case, anything standing still is rendered grey, and any color comes from moving elements in the frame. 

Accidental 3D
A friend of mine was working with stereographic photos, and after visiting her studio and having the principles explained to me, I started to play around with shooting some myself. I made a few experiments and then let the idea of what I might want to use the stereo process for marinate in the back of my head.

A while later, shortly after the death of my father, I was looking through some photographs that I had taken of him and of a trip to Massachusetts and the house I grew up in about nine months before he died. I realized that I would often shoot the same picture more than once, "for safety," since, with digital cameras, the available number of exposures isn't a limited quantity anymore. But because I was holding the camera or phone in my hand, I would move very slightly between shots. I remembered the 3D experiments and decided to see if any of these repeat shots constituted stereographic pairs.

Many did. Even more exciting, they often held both still and moving elements, a logical impossibility of vision in most circumstances - my father wearing two different expressions, or standing at two separate points in the room, while everything else remained unchanged. I like the idea that, by separating the information sent to each eye, the brain has to take a mix of concordant and discordant images and resolve them into one picture of "truth."