Solve et Coagula II #8, 30 x 30″ C-Print
Solve et Coagula is a term that was used in alchemy. It is Latin for “dissolve and combine”. The alchemists believed that all matter came from the same source and that dissolving, combining, and purifying of the base substances could produce gold. We took this idea and applied it to this particular series.
Our earlier color bodies of work, The Darker Stage of Twilight, From the Velvet Underground, and Energy/Matter, had all been photographed with an old Polaroid Land Camera, straight out of the 60’s. Actually, we were not sure of its origin, but one day we took the lens off, taped a piece of aluminum foil pierced with a sewing needle, and, “voila”, it was now a pinhole camera. In the cold and desolation of winter, we’d walk the dunes of Provincetown, or the back marshes and underbrush of Truro, and made images that were hand held, with long exposures. We experimented with the development times and temperatures of the Polaroid film, sometimes causing rivulets of dye to form; the results were painterly.
For Solve et Coagula we used the same Polaroid camera, only this time our interest was held in the paper “negative”, (base substance), that is peeled from the print and thrown out. Loaded with empty photo paper boxes, we would shoot an image, peel the negative, and carefully tape it in a box for its protection. The chemicals that remained on the paper would then start to crystallize and go off into incredible configurations. We would check the “negative”, for a few days or weeks until we felt that it was ready, re-shoot it with a medium format camera, and enlarge it using the color negative and a traditional enlarger.
We chose Fujiflex paper because it gave the images an incandescent quality not obtainable with other papers. And in the end what was once looked upon as something to be discarded, became an object purified, beautiful and inspiring. Gold for the soul.
Solve et Coagula II #2, 30 x 40″ C-Print