Russel Kwan

My mission is to create entirely new species of photographs using the tools and materials of the pre-digital age.  The digital world has left in its wake a haunted house full of unexplored dark corners: photography's analog medium.  Ghost hunting might be fun, but it isn't easy – so far, I have been down innumerable rabbit-holes, countless blind alleys and suffered many heartbreaking failures.  Many of my experiments involve abusing commercially produced film and photographic paper with homebrew chemistries, tortuous exposures and dubious processing conditions.  There is risk of fire and poison gas.  Occasionally, actual science prompts an experiment, but more often than not, it's more of a "I wonder what would happen if I tried…" fling.  I keep a notebook full of stupid ideas to try – and I keep the necessary materials at hand to try them, so I always have something to fill the random bits of time that might be lying around (there aren't many).  So far, I have two successes to report after 20 years of trying – "thin bright arc" and "music of the spheres".  Both of these bodies of work demonstrate the insane possibilities of dark corners – and having succeeded twice, who knows what's down the next rabbit hole?

PS.  There's still room in my life for using a good 'ol camera (sometimes older than me - film of course), making pictures and printing them in our darkroom.  Gives me things to show our darkroom students before I get 'em hooked on the rabbit holes.

Russ Kwan March 2020

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