Personal Project: 'Ghost Scans' - working with expired film.

Project Brief:

As much of my current artwork centres around film photography, there was an area I specifically wanted to consider and explore : film expiration. All the rolls of film that I use are expired- what does this do to the final enlargements? What does it mean? And why is it important to know that it is expired? I decided to buy the oldest roll of film that I could find online and take pictures of empty spaces (architectural) These spaces would serve as frames for the marks and activity within the expired film. I used a 120 mm film in a holga camera. Using the holga to produce lomographic results I thought would further heighten the media and the process that the film goes through (light leaks, marks etc)

I was inspired by a book about alternative photography processes- 'Poetics of Light: Contemporary Pinhole Photography', 2014, by Nancy Spencer. In the book she outlines the use of pinhole cameras, and their uses through history, including her own photographs to highlight its increasingly popular contemporary use.

"Pinhole offers new ways of exploring the world using the simplest, improvised mechanisms fashioned of oat boxes, sea shells, and other surprising materials to create images of mysterious, sometimes disturbing beauty in dreamlike landscapes, portraits still-life's, abstractions and politically charged images" p. 5

I set about choosing empty building spaces to photograph - specifically using stone walls, white washed walls and church interiors (the dark lighting in here made it specifically difficult for the camera to make out the space. My idea was that the images might capture noise that would seem unseen to the human eye. I also did not use a tripod, in order to make the images more immediate. 12 photos were taken, and the film was developed at 'Photographique' in Bristol - that specifically deals with lomography photography.

click to view slideshow.

The results were far better than I could have expected. The reason why I decided to call them 'ghost scans' was because to me they looked like scans of paranormal activity. In most of the images you cannot tell what is depicted. You have an idea of a space, but only just - some are obviously where the light has leaked completely, and all you can see is a circular shape - they are uncanny yet beautiful. I find this project very successful to me- although I am still trying to find a reply to the questions in the intro above. It is very clear that these are analogue film photographs, but what does it mean that I am using this media? To me, it is best explained by the idea of truth in photography. There is something to be said for the archival and documentary use of film - my project highlights this, however also shows something more fantastical and perhaps deceitful. This is something that I would really like to play with in the future : I really want to work with how I display them, and how to make the images feel like a sort of detective journey, highlighting a play between truth and deceit, a story of my own making.

Black leather board with 9 photos mounted.
A1 Board with 9 Photo's mounted.

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