The media in my photography are sheets of ice I call slates, borrowing a term from early glass plate photography. Essentially the slates are colored, sculpted, and otherwise manipulated, then set outside in the often-brutal New Mexican summer sun to melt, where they are photographed. I claim no particular pedigree for either photography or fine art, though I’ve long admired the work of Sally Mann, Joel-Peter Witkin, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Roy Stuart, Man Ray, Cindy Sherman, and others.
In terms of technique my primary interest lies in the interplay of design and randomness, controlling some factors in the slate and then placing it in an environment that introduces variables beyond my control. I begin with an idea for what I want to capture, an image or design (or even just a feeling evoked by a particular color scheme). I use various media to try to capture it in water—before, during, or after freezing. Freezing the water introduces randomness through ice bubbles, cracks, streaks, surface warping (due to water expanding as it freezes), and other factors. I then work with the result, sometimes repeating the process, until I have a slate of ice that represents a physical record of a sort of tug-of-war, a compromise between human-imposed design and inherent aberrations introduced by the environment.
The ephemeral nature of the piece appeals to me as well, because a particular design may exist only for a few days (or a few hours). The photo is documentary evidence that it was a Thing, however briefly. Unlike an oil painting, mural, metal sculpture, etc. the piece itself only exists for a short while. It could, I suppose, be kept frozen but would as a practical matter be useless as a piece of art; it could only be viewed in subzero temperatures and in any event the necessary refrigeration would obscure the colors because of frost. The true nature of what emerges from the slate can only be seen as it sweats in the sun, its full beauty only revealed in the process of its physical disintegration.
The incongruity of a sheet of ice in the New Mexican desert sun is another source of tension and interest for me. The temperature here drops below freezing on occasion during the winter, but a sheet of ice of that size and color is unnatural. Ice is of course completely natural—but not in the context in which I use and photograph it. Each piece is unique, and couldn’t be duplicated even if I wanted to. Each slate colors, freezes, and cracks (and melts) differently, depending on innumerable factors ranging from how cold the freezer is to the type of color used.
Though this project is more of a hobby than a business, the images here are available for sale.
If you are interested in purchasing a signed print, please contact me for sizes and pricing.