Through experimentation with the basic elements of photography, I explore transformative reactions between light and chemistry as analogs for my body’s inability to break down sugar into the energy essential for life due to the chronic autoimmune disease Type 1 Diabetes. In the entwined projects Ouroboros and Transmutation, I combine my iron-rich blood with insulin, sugar, and light-sensitive chemistry and expose the admixtures to sunlight to create crystalline formations. I translate these into silver gelatin photographs by inserting them directly into my enlarger in lieu of using a camera or negatives. I subsequently tone the prints in copper or gold chloride, and thus, transform iron into silver, and silver into copper or gold. In this way, I draw on the proto-science of alchemy, which united the quest to physically transform base metals into gold with the metaphysical goals of curing all illness and prolonging life through the creation of a universal elixir. While referencing this history, I also investigate the theme of metamorphosis in contemporary bio-medical practices, like synthesizing insulin from E. coli bacteria and engineering an artificial pancreas from human tissue outside of the body.
In the related project Transplant, I create a laboratory-like setting in which I transfer images of the insulin-producing cell bodies of the pancreas onto Nasturtium leaves using hand-drawn negatives and the chlorophyll printing process. The form of the islet cells mimics the structure of the nasturtium leaves and the process of photosynthesis is a fitting metaphor for the cells’ function. Through this work, I strive to create multivalent metaphors evocative of recurring structures in the natural world and the replication and mutation of these structures at the microscopic and macroscopic levels as a means to ponder the continuum of energy that animates everything in the cosmos.
in Gold Vault # 5 at the Old Mint
in San Francisco.