John Cyr: Developer Abstractions

In August of 1860, the Reverend F. F. Stratham delivered a paper to the South London Photographic Society to confirm: “It is true that photography is the child of chemistry…. But I am prepared to maintain that, if a child once, photography has been a grateful child; and… is repaying the advantages received in her condition of pupilage with a most bountiful interest.” In a recent and ongoing body of work, John Cyr explores, quite literally, how chemistry and photography are related. Having worked as a professional fine art photographic printer and skilled in the subtleties of printmaking, Cyr now forgoes traditional subject matter to direct attention to the science and evolution of image production. He places sheets of exposed photographic paper in a developing tray—some with latent images ready to be revealed on them, some without—and drips or splashes developer of varying dilutions on them. Then he watches, waits, and records what happens. Each of the lyrical unique photographs that result are documentary of sorts, a touch nostalgic (hinting at the transition from analog to digital photography), and graphically underscore how powerfully the mechanics and art of image-making intertwine.