Inland Sea is a documentary photography project without a camera. The offset-printed artist’s books and corresponding installation contain hundreds of cyanotype prints developed using the water in Lake Michigan to examine the tension between natural and built environments in Chicago.
During the Summer and Fall of 2015, I traveled to ten Chicago beaches, from Howard Street to 100th Street, to make prints. Small square sheets were coated with a UV sensitive solution, placed in plastic bags, and exposed in the lake at varying depths and exposure times. After they were exposed, the sheets were washed and fixed on the beach using Lake water.
Traces and shadows recorded on the sheets by fluctuating water, sand, and light portray the dynamic and changing body of water. The movement of the water over the surface of the sheet, along with the ebb and flow of the sand, form intricate and unexpected patterns.
While photographs of the lake capture a still moment, the cyanotype prints reveal movement and change over time.
The intensity of the sun, composition of the lake water at each beach, and frequency of the waves affected the value and color of each cyanotype; the prints ranged from very light gray to deep blue to grassy green.
Field notes and observations were recorded at each location and used as the source material for the poetic text in the printed artist's book.
These snapshots, unpredictable and highly variable, are collaborations between the artist and the lake, where both play a role in creating the prints.
Installation at the Center for Book, Paper, and Print
After the six inch by six inch sheets are exposed and fixed, the images are scanned as source material for offset printing. By intervening in the offset printing process, the printed sheets continue to evolve and change, similar to the incessant motion of the lake itself. Each book in the edition varies slightly because of adjustments I’ve made to ink levels, density, and color throughout the print run. The sequence of pages mimics my approach to the cyanotype creation where the lake, the press, and I as the artist are in conversation throughout the production of the artwork.
Accompanying text within the book combines field notes and poetic text to suggest the documentary nature of the project while imitating the form and repetition of the waves.
The text, printed in silver, disappears and reappears with the turning of the page.
Inland Sea, 2016
11.5" x 9"
Offset-printed artist's book
Special edition covered with handmade paper and sewn on tapes.
Throughout each press run, the ink was constantly changed and sheets were fed in multiple orientations; as a result, each press sheet in the entire edition is unique.