Brian Taylor‘s ‘Open Books’ photo project is one of the most interesting I’ve come across in a long, long time. Not only is his process of image making a fascinating one but his presentation of the final image and how he forces the viewer to imagine, to sense what cannot be seen, is a beautiful way to articulate his conceptual ideas.
Taylor creates books. It is an amalgamation of his love of the book format and the texture of art. It is also a comment, his statement about the fast paced, technologically driven 21st Century that is leaving behind nature and the wonder of the everyday. His images are inspired by the surreal and poetic moments of living and how we can no longer differentiate between what is natural and what is coloured with implausibility, humour and irony.
His books are hand bound marbleized paper with hard covers and are displayed fully opened to a double spread photograph. Each book is then framed in a wooden box and exhibited on the wall. What you, the viewer, see is an open book showing a photograph which hides other pages underneath. The underlying pages contain the bits and pieces that led to the final image; snapshots, sketches and work prints. Images that ‘gave their lives’ to the final picture.
It’s a wonderful idea; you are aware of what is underneath, can sense the history of the image you can see, but are blind to it.
The prints themselves are produced, for the most part, using 19th Century Cyanotype and Gum Bichromate printing processes. Images that are built using multiple layers of brush-applied emulsions. It’s probably best to let him explain the process:
I believe that certain works of art created by a human touch may contain a resonance of that touch: a discernible, lingering aura.
Each print starts as a sheet of watercolour paper, coated by hand with a layer of Cyanotype emulsion. The paper is contact printed with a full size negative and exposed in sunlight for several minutes. After development, an image appears in rich Prussian Blue. The print is then coated with a layer of Gum Bichromate solution (containing green gouache pigment) and contact printed in sunlight.
This second exposure rests in register on top of the blue image and the print takes on natural tones of greens. A third exposure is made in brown pigment and now reveals a landscape containing warm, natural tones of wood.
A final exposure is made in black, deepening just the shadows of the scene. Four exposures are made over several days to produce these handmade prints. The resulting artwork is very archival, comprised of permanent Winsor Newton gouache pigment printed on watercolour paper.
So there you have it. Wonderful art that works on a number of levels; both the process of image making and the final piece itself. If you have the time it’s worth checking out all his work.