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Skin like Silt

Artist Blog by Owen McCarter

The use of film was a key element to the project “Et in Arcadia Ego”. Its physicality and relationship to both chemicals and water. I began experimenting materially with negatives by developing in water from the site I had photographed, the unstable temperature and sediment levels altering the image in the process. PCB’s oil-like consistency allows it to adhere to soil and travel vast distances flowing with the river's current, building up in dammed areas. My process of development became a means for me to visualize this movement of contaminated sediment in the river currents. The images themselves were abstracted, with shifts in tone and grain creating surreal and unearthly landscapes. I began incorporating rituals of burial in my practice, photographing areas of contamination and then returning to bury the negative at the site it was exposed. With time the groundwater and rainfall caused the submerged image to be erased. All that remained in its place were the marks of erosion. The negative looks almost clear to the eye, like a scratched piece of glass. Exhuming and scanning it revealed another altered landscape, layers of markings creating a world of their own. Through these processes the material production of the work addresses perceptions of time and truth, complicating history rather than declaring it.

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