PERSONAL REALITY: Vanessa Lu
Vanessa Lu considers photography both as a material document of time and as a process of searching beyond the foreseeable. She is excited by all kinds of camera-less techniques and chemical experiments. She researched the place of women in photography at the turn of the 20th century as part of her PhD at the National Academy of Fine Arts.
Vanessa Lu is the third artist from our creative collective to participate in the photographic study PERSONAL REALITY.
Her first visit to RadLab Studio was brief, but extremely dynamic and fulfilling for all of us. In one day we managed to organize a meet-up with students, for whom Vanessa had specially prepared the subject “Cyanotype may not be boring!”. Throughout the afternoon the participants discussed different approaches to one of the most exploited and popular techniques in the field of alternative photography. In a presentation Vanessa Lu talked about different artists who have an interesting relation to cyanotype, her personal projects and recent ones from the Bulgarian scene.
During the workshop that followed, the students experimented with the technique in every possible way with Vanessa’s help and guidance: how to apply the emulsion, choice of images, possibility of combining with other techniques and collages, drawing, making digital negatives.
The purpose of the workflow comes down to the possibility of having a personal relationship when working with cyanotype. For this alternative technique, two basic solutions are needed: ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide. When these are mixed, a light-sensitive emulsion is formed.
After exposure, the copy is washed in water and the print is ready. The process is one of the easiest and most accessible of the alternative processes, practiced by photographers, painters, artists, and used as the subject of many workshops for hobbyist. As it grows in popularity, we begin to see uniform images, a product of the lack of depth in the experiment. Not today!
Vanessa says she is always excited to meet young people interested in the photographic medium (and beyond) and the process of exploring the diverse topics it poses. The positions of the different generations, necessarily bring interesting dynamics and discoveries!
After a short break to relax, we indulged in a midnight session on litгprint, another technique from the alternative photography arsenal that was new to Vanessa. Her experience with silver-gelatin prints certainly came in handy in the RadLab Studio lab as well. With the last strength of the day, we managed to print a series of photographs, with different exposures, and with all the arbitrary nature of the developer (something very typical of this technique) we achieved quite dynamic results. For now, we leave those in the archive, which will be a subject of consideration until Vanessa next visit, when we will embark on an exploration of Personal Reality.