Text and photography by Arnoud Bakker.
A thousand words, thats what they told me, a thousand and otherwise they will not publish my thoughts and works. I think that’s fair. By telling and thinking, a thousand is just enough to explain what I think I’m doing.
As I was raised and educated as a photographer, that was like 12 years ago, when I finished Art academy, ARTez (the AKI) in Enschede (NL). I loved the darkroom that time, and I made myself a way, -by making kind of collage-like-big-paper-and-stuff-negatives- to create a world that was mine, without the -It just looks like- look… No, by being extreme with tape, cutting, and glueing, it went beyond that. It became a new reality for me.
While considering the fact that photography was still analogue in that time. A couple of years later the digital revolution was a fact, and everything became possible. With a digicam, a CF, photoshop and some patience.
Although I’m not a purist, I noticed that I didn’t felt comfortable with the new situation. I had the feeling that I was pulled in this digi-race in order to survive. But the uniqueness of an image had been degraded to zero. Nowadays every file can be copied a thousand times. Black and white pictures are printed on PE color paper.
And every minor unwanted detail can, -and will be – erased by the easy power of the clone-stamp. I didn’t believed the digital photo anymore. It even looked like people didn’t believed photography anymore.
Once there was a time, people believed photography, you could see that it was real, because it was on the picture itself, that was the proof, and otherwise it could not have been made. Now the time had come for me to decide to continue analogue photography.
Also the fact that analogue had been replaced by digital, didn’t meant that photography was explored in every way. Actually there was, -and still is- a lot of unexplored areas in photography.
I started to combine several processes. Common processes, but just combined in a different way, so new possibility’s announced.
The day the umigraphy was born. Named after a huge repro-camera, the “umigraff” (Actually I “invented” it a long time ago, but back than I didn’t felt the need to use it right away because of an overdoses of other techniques). But now It gave me the back possibilities to create valuable photo’s . The pictures became little objects again, precious, and because of the absence of a negative, they are uniques.
The beautiful silver soaked paper, that is in the camera (mainly 8 x 10″ ) during the exposure, is also the final print. Touched by the light that was there during the photo-moment, as if the paper is a silent whiteness. The photo, as if it has stolen a little of the light, and a little of the soul, of the one who is portrayed. Just like in the old times, when the Indians were afraid of being portrayed, afraid to loose their souls.
On the other hand, it gives me as a mortal, the opportunity to get a kind of grip at life, by collecting all these small pieces of soul. As if the models, the young women, kind of trust me with a piece of them. It gives me an affirmation of my existence.
An other project I have been working on is a “pinhole polaroid porn project”. As there is a lot of disciplines in photography, pinhole is one that has my interest as well. It’s a magical thing, to catch light. Perhaps even more because the instruments being used are primitive, self build and understandable. A perfect tool for light catchers in the purest form. Funny thing though, is the fact that porn is an underexposed subject for pinhole users. So I decided to explore the possibility’s of it.
I realized the ‘inconvenient’ side-effects of the camera obscura. Extremely long exposure times, a blur because of a lack of lens, and unsharpness because of movement. On the other hand, I was happy to see the first results. because its dimness. Its that effect that makes it more comfortable to look at the pictures. They became a kind of paintings. Man can say the project is a “failure” cause no matter how hard I try, the important ingredients for porn are missing.
Because of the exposure times, face expressions, become less intense, and the razer sharp pink colored skin has turned soft and greenish, by the behavior of long exposure on Polaroid. In order to get a little sharpness, I desired to use flash now and then, when I thought it was needed.
The profit in use of Polaroid, man can immediately see the results. And still there is a lot of unexpected coincidences and surprises involved with this material. But also the uniqueness of Polaroid and the light-catch story as told above are important for me.
As has been written in my photobook “Atropa bella donna”1 “Arnoud Bakker is an alchemist who wants to create golden girls on paper”.
I try to combine a ‘perfect’ woman, and by collecting all kind of different aspects of women, I catch their light, their soul, their sexuality, their forms, in a stereographic way, their moves in small pieces of 8 mm film.
I will try to get it all, with one camera, with two camera’s, with big camera’s with small camera’s. I want their winks, their moments, their eyes, their light, mouths, tooth, their scars, their skin. I want their braveness, and their naivety. I try to order them in rows, as if I make an archive. A collection. And how things can be overwhelming like in a museum for example.
Once there was a time, I was not aware of what I was looking for, I was fascinated and restless, but couldn’t explain what I was searching for. Actually that was a good condition to be in.
The more I try to explained what I’m doing, the more it looses it’s magic, the search for a destiny, is as important for me as reaching the destiny itself. I think this , “the-Frankenstein-put-everything-together-project” as you might call it, will be a lifelong project.
Might be a bit strange for one, but I think it’s just too beautiful.
For more photography please visit Arnoud Bakker website.