Tim McCoy (Cumming, Georgia)
"The Mark of Time"
An Exhibition of Albumen and Palladium Prints
March 5 - 27, 2016
Tim creates images to transform the "reality" seen through the camera lens into expressions of the "oneness" and wonder found in Buddhist/Taoist philosophy. Tim largely excludes human figures, although humanity is alluded to through the cultural icons shown. Rather than photograph evanescent contemporary culture, his images focus on cultural remnants left behind or on natural phenomena as metaphorical substitutes for archetypal concerns inherent in the human condition.
The choice of alternative photographic processes imposes a "look" to the photographs, regardless of the subject matter. He chose to explore alternative processes to evoke the timelessness with his images and their interpretative rather than documentary intent.
Albumen printing was the dominant photographic process from the 1850's until the 1890s! In today's version of this process, Tim creates a 16 x 20 negative transparency from either a scanned 8 x 10 negative or a digital capture. Just as was done in the 1800s, he obtains the albumen by cracking dozens of eggs and separating the yolks from the whites. The whites are beaten to a stiff meringue and allowed to sit overnight while the albumen settles to the bottom of the jar. Tim then floats sketching paper on the albumen solution in a large tray then allows it to dry. Subsequently, the albumenized paper is floated on a 20% silver nitrate solution. After floating, the coated paper is sensitive to light. The paper and the enlarged negative are sandwiched together in a vacuum frame, exposed to ultraviolet light, developed, fixed, washed and dried.
The albumen images in this exhibit are from his portfolio, "Long, Long Journey to the Sea." These images trace the transformation of a particle of water from its birth as rain in the mountains, flows through rivers and swamps, and finally empties into the sea. The journey is also a powerful metaphor for the course of human life. Between birth and death, the watercourse way and the human path interact with both natural and man-made phenomena which alter their trajectories. Viewing an albumen print automatically conjures up vanishing visions of the past. The inherently dark albumen prints suit his somber image of this journey into the heart of darkness.
Tim chose the albumen process for its backward look at the forward flow of water - and life.
Palladium printing was the dominant printing method from the 1890s to the 1930s. Starting with a 16 x 20 negative transparency, Tim coats translucent vellum paper by brushing on the palladium solution. After exposing the paper and transparency to ultraviolet light, he develops the paper in warm potassium oxalate, then washes and dries it.
The heated development of the palladium coating on translucent vellum produces a brownish image that resembles parchment - an allusion to the passage of time. The hard paper surface yields exquisite detail and an etching-like effect, thus partially denying the image's origin as a photograph and emphasizing his interpretative rather than documentary intent.
The palladium images from his portfolio, "Sanctuary," are landscapes populated by a "forest of symbols." The symbolic content is meant to be archetypal - presenting some archaic concern rooted in the human psyche. Sanctuary is one of those concerns embedded in the "collective unconscious," a term coined by the psychologist Carl Jung for archaic psychic structures inherent in the human mind, rather than those based on the experiences of one's personal life. Sanctuary embodies hope and refuge in response to fear and loss-here seen through the lens of time. Sanctuary can be as obvious as the site of religious pilgrimage ("Madonna at Midnight").
Tim chose the palladium process and the translucent vellum paper to emphasize the timeless nature of the theme of this portfolio.