By Leslie Lasiter —
Digital photographs leave no residue, no mess to clean up, and no tangible trace of its own materialization. For the most part, an editing mistake can be undone, forgiven, and forgotten when it is made in digital photography.
Photographer John Cyr shows how film leaves traces, how the development process stains, imprints, and wears away its vessel, the developer’s tray. Cyr photographs a series of developer trays with a bird’s-eye view “so that the photography community will remember specific, tangible printing tools that have been a seminal part of the photographic experience.” He reminds us of these frequently overlooked tools and their historical significance over the past century, titling each tray’s image with its previous owner’s name.
While some trays are kept pristine like nice, for-holiday-use-only dishware, others are scratched, discolored, and distinctively aged like old baking sheets. We see what iconic photographs left behind as they matured. Ansel Adams’ crisp black and white images wore into his tray’s edges, while Emmet Gowin’s tray is marked with scratches and brushes of varying purple hues. Then there are the bright, colorful outliers: Eddie Adams’ flawless canary yellow tray and Barbara Mensch’s bright magenta tray. By viewing these images, Cyr wants us to think of what photographs have “passed through” each tray, before they eventually found homes in museums and galleries.
To see more developer trays and other work by John Cyr, visit: www.johncyrphotography.com