Bridget Conn is breaking all the rules.
As an assistant professor of art at the Armstrong Campus of Georgia Southern University, she teaches the science of darkroom photography. Yet, with her current body of work, she overlooks basic principles to explore chemical processes outside of the norm.
“Involuntary Maps” is a sub-series of a larger body of work titled “Language Acquisition,” in which Conn explores gesture, symbolism, intuitive mark-making, and written language through the medium of chemigrams.
Created without a camera or negatives, chemigrams are made by exposing silver gelatin photo paper to light and traditional darkroom chemistry. The variety and possibility for color, texture, value, shape, and line is nearly infinite, creating a state of mystery that mirrors her investigations into the ambiguity of words, symbols and written communication, said Conn.
“It’s all about the potential of the work,” she said. “Everything is happening in the moment, and I’m making choices to preserve certain gestures or to explore beyond that within the chemical process. The concept is now new, but the discovery is ongoing.”
Belguim artist Pierre Cordier first discovered chemigrams in the 1950s. Yet the analog-based process is only now rising in popularity as digital photography becomes the norm.
“Digital can take care of all the straightforward stuff, so now we move forward and see what we can experiment with in the darkroom,” Conn explained.
Creating chemigrams was also a unique way for Conn to combine her love of the darkroom with her need to create as a visual artist. Her latest work captures intuitive strokes and gestures of chemicals dancing across photo paper with unique exposure to light changing the scope of the art.
Conn does not see her current body of work as literal maps, though they could easily be viewed as such.
“A map’s intention is to help a user find their destination, yet I view these images as providing a means of getting lost,” Conn said. “I read them like entangling books, witnessing a chronological timeline as certain colors, values, and shapes reveal to me the steps of what occurred in the making of that particular chemigram.”
“Involuntary Maps” is on display through March 14 and may be viewed during In Vino Veritas’ regular business hours.
This exhibition is presented by Sulfur Art Services, a project of Sulfur Studios, which pairs local artists with local businesses, including the Sentient Bean, Starland Café, and In Vino Veritas. All work is available for purchase online.