[alt-photo] Re: an alternative to alternative

Christina Anderson zphoto at montana.net
Tue Apr 3 14:26:24 GMT 2012

Good morning,

Thanks all for such thoughtful and wonderful responses. I am going to ponder over the whole lot and see what  shakes out, but on a cursory glance it seems the term alt is still alive and well within its practitioners despite lack of gallery support. 

I personally love the terms "historic processes" or "19th century processes" because they have a certain cachet, and I find, for instance, when going up for tenure and creating a dossier that is read by numerous people outside of the field of photography, it was necessary to use those terms because not only does NO ONE know the term "alt," not even photographers in general seem to know what the heck a gum print is!! Sometimes I feel like a lone voice crying in the wilderness.

When I subtitled the Experimental Photography Workbook "a manual of analog, black & white darkroom practice" I was being a bit intrepid because I was told once that it is not technically "analog." But for some reason I think that term has stuck as differentiation from "digital" so I threw caution to the scientific wind and used it. But I could kick myself because all's I could have done was put quotation marks around that word to spell that out a little clearer.

I made a conscious decision quite a while ago to differentiate between enlarging processes (the Exp book) and contact processes (my Alt. Pro. Condensed). WIth that differentiation, bromoil went in Exp and solarplate went in Alt which also seems odd to those on this list. Well, when you get right down to  it, "experimental" is sort of Luddite. 

My alt class used to be called "non-silver" but when I taught VDB and argyrotype and salted paper it no longer applied so the name was changed years ago to alternative processes.

I like hand-made, hand-applied. I also wonder how this new digital transfer printmaking art fits in to this.

I'm actually cooking up a class to teach to printmaking students because to my way of thinking, gum and casein and those kinds of processes would have great crossover possibilities in a printmaking class, not to mention the obvious of solarplate fitting in there.

So those are some of my conclusions, with perhaps no easy or right answer to be had. But thanks for all who took time to craft thoughtful answers. I am keeping them all.

And, as for me and my house, I am busy reading 1899 previous gum posts from the archives, gleaning information from as far back as 1994, waxing nostalgic and teary at times as I read former contributors' emails who are no longer with us. Even the rowdy ones I miss! It is truly a wonderful community we have here.

Bob, heal fast! I've heard nothing but good things about that surgery!

Henk, great gums!! I love your contemporary style and your luscious colors.


Christina Z. Anderson

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