[Alt-photo] the alt family tree

Darryl Baird darryl at darrylbaird.com
Sun Jul 30 12:11:55 UTC 2017


What a great question, I've been ruminating the answer in my head for
weeks and found that it is a wildly disconnected bunch of introductions
to ideas, artists, then techniques (and even computers) that got me into
alt-processes. 

I think my first influence was gelatin-silver multi-printing in a
darkroom. A professor (Don Pasquella) at SMU's broadcast-film school
taught photo courses and showed us a print he did combining images from
different negatives that impressed me greatly. Next came the discovery
of Jerry Uelsmann's work from volunteering at a gallery in Dallas, and
later Todd Walker's gum prints at the same gallery, which also ran
workshops with exhibiting artists (Texas Center for Photographic
Studies). I was really hooked by then, but knew that I had a lot to
learn. Somehow during this time (1970s) I saw Bea nettles work. I
ordered a Kwik-Print kit, a Chuck Swedlund book on making negatives from
Light Impressions, and taught myself the process. I attended a Friends
of Photography workshop (1976) in Tucson where I met and learned from
Ellen Land-Weber who was making color prints from a copy machine that
she managed to register in the machine for multiple printing layers on
art paper... beautiful work, and again I was in love with a new
process/idea. I made a copier-collage book that week... bookmaking was
an area I would revive years later when I went back to grad school in
the 1990s. 

I showed Kwik-Prints once at a Allen Street (local photo gallery) with a
photographer friend, Chip Pankey, who did platinum prints. I learned
about Bostick and Sullivan from him. Then Pagemaker came out and
promised (advertised) the capability of making four-color separations on
a computer. I began to scan elements to make negatives for Kwik-Print.
Life intervened and I dropped off the planet for about a decade. ;) 

I started grad school in 1994 in an aesthetics studies program, but left
two years later to get my MFA at UNT (North Texas). The program allowed
doing work at one of the 3 universities in north TX, which included
Texas Womens University where I learned most of the other processes --
cyanotype, van-dyke, gum, and book making from Susan k Grant. That was
the icing on the cake for me and I've modeled my alt-process teaching
after hers. Those were really great days, and were followed by getting
to start the program at the University of Michigan-Flint campus, which
had (and still has) a required alt class. 

All in all though, I think my single, most formative learning has come
from this list. Ever encounter at the Alt-process list in the 1990s was
like dropping into a library and getting the low-down on the "good"
books, techniques, and (most importantly) problem-solving. It's a long
list of names, but the community gave freely, and often forcefully, of
their experience and successes. 

On 2017-07-16 10:43, Christina Z. Anderson via Alt-photo-process-list
wrote:

> Dear All,
> 
> A few years ago SPE (Society of Photographic Education) was working out this photography family tree thing, where members would write in who taught them photography. I thought it was an interesting proposition, even though most of us have several moms and dads so to speak so the final tree trunk might not be just one set of "parents." 
> 
> An MFA in photography is a comparatively new field as compared to other arts, but even other arts had schools of training and thought (e.g. Bauhaus).
> 
> So that got me thinking about the key texts (and mentors, teachers, people) who influenced me in alt over the years. And it also got me to thinking about alt list members over the years, who's still on, who still posts, that kind of thing. 
> 
> And then I've noticed lately "pockets" of alt in different countries and wondered who was at the foundations of those movements. It had to start somewhere. Where did Mrhar come from? 
> 
> Whatever the case, alt seems to be a burgeoning movement, unlike in the 60s or 70s where it was decidedly not mainstream.
> 
> Anyway, it is an interesting conversation to think about, our forefathers and foremothers.
> 
> Perhaps all contemporary collodion, for instance, leads back to Osterman or Coffer? Salt leads back to Reilly (1980)? Gum to Scopick?
> 
> William Crawford's text and then Scopick's were at my foundation, but then Airey, House, Arnow, Blacklow, Hahn (who was influenced by Henry Holmes Smith), Nettles, Van Keuren...and then later Enfield, James, Farber, Barnier.
> 
> I'd love to hear input from others as to their influences, perhaps too long a conversation for the summer vacation months! I decided to make a list of which I will share when I feel it is comprehensive. Wouldn't want to miss someone because they weren't on my personal radar.
> 
> Chris
> 
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