Artist research Peter Hoffman

Series: fox River Derivatives. 2010-2013

Hoffman shoots medium format film images in the country side along Fox River – a waterway that separates his hometown area of Chicago from a rural landscape. He uses post production techniques in his work after taking the images he sprays the negatives with gasoline and lights them, before the flames obliterate any traces of exposure he puts them out with water.

The process of Hoffman’s work is quite destructive. He speaks metaphorically about his work. He feels our consumption habits specifically dealing with precious natural resources are out of control and unstainable. He says he feels that not many people care enough about it because they won’t be around long enough to see the mess. Hoffman hopes that his photographs will help gain a little insight into this mess. It questions our relationship with our natural resources using the theme ‘water and oil’ with consideration to the large BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The images are part of a larger experiment that utilizes water and fossil fuels in the actual image making process, letting these substances become an important variable in the visual representation. The images show dynamic between the contrast of natural beauty and destruction.

The images create a very psychedelic imagery. This is shown from the bubbling emulsion of the chemical reaction on the negatives. From these images I like how the initial point of focus is the bubbling colours but when looking longer you see the slight remanence of the lake and nature in the background revealing the nature of the image. In my own image similarly I would like the original image barely recognisable.

I love the psychedelic and dreamy feel these images create from the destruction, the colours and patterns that are created from burning the emulsion creates a mystical element that I want, another artist that uses natural sources to destroy images that is very similar to Peter Hoffman is Matthew Brant.

Brandt creates a photo series called ‘lakes and reservoirs’ this is a fascinating experimental project based on the simple concept of making images that mirror themselves. It’s a conceptual project that looks at both the subject and the process. Brandt involves the subject matter in his development of his image making. In the project Brandt carried his camera and a jug of the lake water he would photograph. After he would take the image he would make the print and submerge it in the water collected from the site, the image would soak from days to even months. This would impact the layers of colours on the image. Even though he knew in the back of his mind he would be destroying the images he would still use the rule of 3rds to create ‘good’ photographs.

Taking both these artists work into consideration I feel by actually destroying the images it brings out the concept of memory’s being destroyed similarly to showing the destruction of nature, it brings the aesthetics and concept in together. There are different ways in which I can use post production in my images either before exposing the images to print by altering the negatives or even looking at destroying the prints themselves like Brandt.

Images by Peter Hoffman:

Images by Matthew Brandt:


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