SCOTTSDALE, AZ.- Alan Bur Johnsons works consist of framed photographic transparencies arranged in patterns that, in the words of the artist, Can read like vibrations or sound, like the buzz of a swarm, or a human pulse on a monitor. His newest work is an expansion of this concept as Johnson incorporates photographic negatives into tiny mass-manufactured, fabricated steel frames that visually reference the repetitious syllabic structure of poetic forms.
In groupings consisting of as little as one and as many as 600 parts, the works seem to come to luminous life as each framed, wing-like component flickers independently in the wake of an exhalation or current of air passing through the room.
The individual photographic images and the general organic contours of Johnsons Swarms echo one another in their emergent cellular structures. Johnson remarks that he possesses an enduring interest in understanding not only how structures develop and function, but also what causes them to break down and how they become reassembled or assimilated into a new structure. Johnsons photographs underscore this abiding concern; he incorporates images of insect hives and wings with the medical scans of a brain stricken with Alzheimers disease. The dark lacework of these subjects is remarkably similar, a mysterious confluence of intertwining cells and fraying structures. The works seem to affirm that though ephemeral and vulnerable individually, biological entities endure in a more universal pattern, and may be reborn again, hanging in the bright atmosphere, shimmering in the clear desert air.
Alison Rossiter, a photographer whose work has been exhibited internationally since the 1970s, embarked on an expansive body of work concerned with the developing of old photographic paper in 2007, after she experimentally developed a paper with a 1946 expiry date. In the ghostly configuration that appeared, Rossiter recognized an iteration of the passage of time and the passing into obsolescence of certain materials once common to the photographic medium. Since then, Rossiter has scoured the Internet for packages of antique photo paper. She also finds them at garage sales and a number of them are gifted to her from descendants of deceased photographers. Collecting papers that have been previously opened and exposed to light (resulting in a solid black when developed), she hopes that a residue of prior ownership will appear in the latent image, where light has passed through the opaque, but not impervious, packaging over the years. Rossiter primarily relies on circumstantial chemical reactions and light exposures, creating mysterious, sophisticated abstractions as she imprints a literal record of the tools of the medium.
These silvery or black-and-white images speak eloquently of the artists decades of experience and profound relationship with the physical materials and processes of photography. In Rossiters works, photographic history is documented in mysterious compositions of fingerprints, dust, mold, creases, and the impressions of unknown variables, and the result is a revelation. In a 2011 interview with The New York Times, the artist remarked, For me, its a personal imperative to know more about the history, materials and processes of my medium.