Site/Sight Unseen

Site Sight Unseen 6 © Jane Olin
Site Sight Unseen 6 © Jane Olin

Like the Surrealist before me, I have a deep respect for the fortunes of chance.
This work began as a wild impulse to photograph dried plants falling against a wall. That simple Havana scene became the genesis of my Site/Sight Unseen series.
While printing those Havana negatives, an unfixed print remained unnoticed in the darkroom sink all day.   As it lay in the sink, an alchemical interaction took place between the gelatin silver paper, light and developer. The dramatic effects and unexpected beauty of that print prompted a new way of working in which process itself rather and preconceived ideas took precedence.
While engaging uncertainty and chance, I purposely pour, spray, and drip chemicals onto exposed gelatin silver paper, manipulating and closely monitoring changing effects with an alchemist’s attention to detail.

This method of intermingling conscious choice, chance, and inspiration produces richly layered silver gelatin prints. These images are then enlarged and printed using the digital processes.



Crow 1 © Jane Olin
Crow 1 © Jane Olin

“The garden surrounding my home is a haven for crows. In the morning they are busy feeding, calling their young, and making their lookout sounds from a high perch while their clan feed beneath them. Their calls and interactions became increasingly intriguing once they stopped simply being background noise. Before long, Crow became the focus for a full-fledged artistic project. After study, it became clear that crow is part of a fascinating and convoluted history. They are deeply steeped in mythology, mystery, and magic of many cultures and for millenia.

Creating crow images that are true to my vision of a simple, sparse aesthetic while still capturing their essence and mystery became my challenge. Discovering a location for making these photographs became of prime importance. It needed to be a place that was easily accessible, where crows felt comfortable and a place that lent itself to an uncluttered photographic background. After much trial and error, the perfect location was found and the project began in earnest.

While working on this Crow project, darkroom methodology expanded and became even more creative pushing against the artificial boundaries of what a photograph could be. Some techniques used were farmer’s reducer to diminish specific parts of the print, and unique toning. These darkroom techniques helped amplify the mystery and magic of crow in these images.

These crow images appear sparse and simple, though each holds its own strong kernel of character. The Japanese aesthetic of finding beauty in natural simplicity and in the transient nature of things is known as wabi sabi, an essence I wished to capture in these photographs. So it seems fitting to conclude my statement with my original haiku.

Crow’s wild call echoes
Breaking deep forest silence
Exposing shadow


To learn more please visit the Jane Olin page.


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