Brooklyn electronic media artist Phillip Stearns is exhibiting a new series of some pretty wild photography, and all produced without the use of a camera. Applying different household materials (bleach, vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, salt, rubbing alcohol) before and after exposure to electrical currents, Stearns was able to produce some electrifying images. Applying 15,000 volts of alternating current directly to the surface of instant film, the electricity arced, ignited, and sparked, leaving beautiful patterns in the emulsion.
Stearns has been exploring his understanding of what a digital or photographic image is, through many different approaches. He sees images, sound and video not only as signals, or a way or producing something, but as raw materials to use and to exploit. In the Evident Material exhibition, he puts this theory into practice and explores the relationship between the human eye and the camera.
The sentiment that the camera is an extension of the eye is taken to an extreme. When looking through the Fujifilm FP-100c instant color film datasheets, the similarities between the layering of materials in the film and the layering of cells in the retinal is striking. Perhaps it is because the development of such film technologies parallels an evolving understanding of how the eye sees. (Source)
The similarities don’t end there. Stearns commented that the sparks he was experimenting with on the film stock, function in a similar way as the electric impulses in our eyes when processing images.
I find it curious and exhilarating that the impressions left behind after developing these extreme exposures so perfectly resemble networks of blood vessels in the retina. (Source)