Russel Kwan

I am a hybrid artist-scientist photographer.  My current research extends historic chemistries, methods and techniques with the aim of producing prints unlike anything previously made.  I believe photographs that don't look like photographs are special.

I choose film and darkroom photography as my medium because it challenges everything.  Imagination, insight, math, chemistry, physics, computer science, and the tactile nature of old, cranky equipment are all in play.  I make my choice over drawing, painting and digital media because my medium has many unexplored corners and many unimagined possibilities.  It is a backwater, nearly forgotten.  Where I play, there are no boundaries.  And hacking old-school silver chemistry and processes is endless fun.

My history in the black and white darkroom stretches back to the early 1970's when I installed my first darkroom in my parents' basement.  By the early 2000's, the darkroom play that once served as my refuge from the demands of software engineering evolved to full-time engagement, as exhibition opportunities arose.  Somewhat incidentally, an exhibition at Troy University (Alabama) turned into a guest lecture series, which evolved into a small-group MicroSchool in Vancouver, dedicated to exploring personal and creative approaches to photography.  Wendy and I were recruited in 2013 to re-invent the black and white darkroom program at Langara College in Vancouver, a program we have expanded from its "how-to" roots into a deep exploration of the arts and sciences of silver-based photography.  We can't wait to see how this next generation of darkroom workers will push the possibilities.  From here, the sky's the limit.

Russel Kwan, January 2018

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