Photo Katastrophi: A Series if Imperfect Imagabes
by Jeffrey Sass
In this body of work I am attempting to create a counterpoint to the current state of photography by creating a series of imperfect, unique images. It seems that what is valued today is sharp, fully resolved digital perfection. That once achieved, can be endlessly re-printed for mass consumption, each one undistinguishable from another. Ink on paper.
The word, “Katastrophi” is from Ancient Greek. It means to ruin or undo. Photo Katastrophi celebrates the imperfections of the hand-created image. Each one is unique and unduplicatable. When I went into the darkroom for this body of work I worked loosly, bending rules, allowing myself to create mistakes, seeing what directions they could drive the work. The materials that were used added to the Katastrophi. Some of the photographic papers were decades expired and acted unpredictably, creating tones and textures that were unforseen. The gelatin photoemulsions on the film and the papers were deliberately distressed or melted away so that other emulsions could be reapplied and exposed.
The subject matter for the images was chosen because of their timeless or mechanical nature. Technology from the current century was avoided so as to excentuate the hand made qualities of the work. The passage of time, the combination of time and light to create the historic photographic image all serve as an analog statement in a digital world.
Jeffrey Sass, Artist
I began in film photography with a Diana camera purchased for me by my grandmother at the Ben Franklin for $2.98 when I was about 6 years old. I used it until I broke it and moved up to my parents’ Argus 75. I can mark each period of my life by what camera I was using and what I found visually fascinating. At middle age I have been exhibited and published but one thing has not changed throughout my artistic life. I believe that it is the duty of the artist to find beauty and meaning where most don’t look for it. This has carried through my work in art photography as well as portraiture and is how I define artists to my students.
I am an amateur photographer and make my living as an art educator. I have taught a range of students in my career, from kindergarten up to the university level. No matter where I have settled, my classroom always has had a darkroom somewhere. As a teacher I treasure the looks kids get when they see an image develop for the very first time. It’s as close as we get to witnessing real magic.
I have been a photographer all of my life. I own and shoot minox negatives through 8×10. In my current work I want to separate myself from the world of digital photography. I feel that I accomplish this by combining various photographic techniques and mixed media. I regularly use decades expired film and photographic papers.
There are two main bodies of my work. One is a salon type of printing that is sometimes tinted with oils. The other is a photographic mixed media in which I combine processes, adding to or cutting up prints to create a piece. In our marketplace where photographers are commonplace it is my goal not to be. I want to recontextualize what defines a handmade photograph in a digital world.
I am currently living in St. Louis Missouri along with 60 cameras, a wife, two dogs and a growing backlog of film that I keep telling myself that I have to develop.