The Photograph Explained: Pinhead Pluto By Kate Robertson

Pinhead Pluto. 2014

Silver gelatin photograph

This photograph Pinhead Pluto is from a recent series Celestial Body Model. For this series I was interested in exploring how a photograph could potentially record forms and concepts that are part of a way of being within a community.

For the past year or so, I’ve attended several deep ecology workshops to become a participant-observer of its practical processes. Deep ecology observes that psychological and spiritual disarray can be attributed to the ‘illusion of separation’ between humans and the rest of the natural world.

I was particularly drawn to the community activity Earth as a Peppercorn, where workshop participants slowly walk through a scale-model of the solar system to experience its vastness. Planet proportions are conveyed with simple tools such as pinheads, melons or walnuts are used.

Since my photographic practice focuses on recording ways of being (rather than seeing) my photographs were made back in the studio and darkroom after the workshop activity had been completed.

Each photograph went through an extensive re-photographing process to allow the process itself to control what became visible in the final image. For Pinhead Pluto, pins were photographed against a black backdrop and printed onto poster paper. The poster paper then became the backdrop for another round of pins to be photographed. This process was repeated approximately ten times.

The final image was captured in my studio on a Toyo-view 4 x 5 camera with Ilford FP4+ film. I enjoy using a large format camera because of its shift and tilt movement capability. I also like the awkwardness and weightiness of a large format camera – for me it slows down the photo capturing process and makes it a more considered and contemplative approach to taking a photograph.

Kate Roberston's darkroom

I’m fortunate to have a Jobo processor (given to me a few years ago by a photographer who was getting rid of his darkroom) so I can develop 12 sheets of 4 x 5 inch film at one time. The photograph is hand printed in my darkroom onto silver gelatin fiber-based paper and toned red and blue.

The final photograph size is 49.5 x 39cm and is framed floating within a wooden frame. At the moment I’m really into working with the characteristics of fiber-based papers, allowing the paper to move and curl depending on light and heat.

Kate Robertson with 4x5 camera

Kate Robertson

Video about Kate

Current exhibition:
Celestial Body Model
Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne
Until 31 May 2014

More info at Edmund Pearce Gallery