Photo by Robin Ginsberg
Born: I was born a long time ago in New York State but grew up in Paterson, New Jersey, USA.
Location: I currently live in Pacifica, California which is very close to San Francisco. (I voted for Kerry, NOT Bush)
Schools: I studied science in college. I have no formal art schooling. Am self taught for both my digital and traditional imaging.
Model of camera(s), type of film: For the GHOST STORIES series shown here as well as some earlier series, I've worked with Tracy Storer on the Polaroid 20x24 camera in San Francisco. I've also worked with 669 film a lot for image transfers and have used these in both my commercial photoillustration and my fine art photography.
Favorite music: Early blues; Robert Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, Skip James, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Bob Dylan for the poetry.
Movies: Most anything by the Brothers Quay, especially Street of Crocodiles and Institute Benjamenta. Wings of Desire, Orson Welles and Kurosawa's films, Nosferatu, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Children of Paradise etc. etc. etc.
Inspirations: Joseph Cornell's boxes, Diane Arbus, The Starn twins, Joel Peter Witkin, recently the work of Gottfried Helnwein and always the paintings of Miles Stryker.
Because of the magic of not knowing how it will turn out...
I began working with scanned Polaroid image transfers (669 film) in 1995 as a way to introduce the element of chance or accident into my digital montage work (the Hide and Seek series). The notion of spontaneity and lack of control became an important counterpoint to the precision of the digital world where I could refine my images ad infinitum.
I continued working with image transfers for the next two series: Secrets of the Magdalen Laundries 2000 and Your Dreams and Omens Revealed 2002, both photoinstallations with 20x24 image transfers on fabric. Again my decision to work with the transfers rather than a digital printing method was the uniqueness of the results.
By accident I came to where my work is now. I had some time left during my final session of producing the Dreams and Omens transfers and I suggested to Tracy that we try letting the film develope for the full amount of time rather than the early peel needed for the transfers. I was so excited by the results. The 20x24 images were extremely luminous and had such a depth to them as well as each one being unique. This was something that could never be produced by any digital means I knew of.
© 2005 Diane Fenster
"No matter how slow the film, Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer It has chosen." - Minor White
This series began because I found myself compelled to photograph people who appeared either haunted or haunting. As the work progresses, I have widened the initial scope of the project to include portraits of people who are in some way "disembodied" by being marginalized in our culture either because of their beliefs, physicality, sexual preference etc.
The resulting images reveal gesture without detail,obtained via processes that rely on chance and accident, amplifying the opportunities to capture the numinous. They hint at an underlying thaumaturgical drama that unveils forgotten personas, thereby presenting a documentary of the imagination with a history both real and fictitious.
This work is informed in part by the Spirit Photography of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Through the use of photo-manipulation techniques, a group of early photographers produced images with an ethereal quality. Even though these spectres were for the most part products of either accidents of slow film or calculated hoax, the stylistic presentation of "that which is not normally seen," becomes a guiding factor for this work.
Polaroid 20x24 prints. Variable edition of 9.
© 2005 Diane Fenster