Information - Allan Macintyre
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Some notes on my work –

Projects –

Liquid Magnet-

I first came across ferrofluid in 2007 when I saw this MIT video that was posted online. Ferrofluid is a highly magnetized liquid composed of nanoscale ferromagnetic particles suspended in a carrier fluid. It has the ability to change shape when in the presence of a strong magnetic field. After seeing this video I started making drawings with ferrofluid on large sheets of film and I was mesmerized by its ability to mutate into different configurations that seem both cellular and celestial. The large Neodymium magnet I used to make these pictures came shipped in a large padded box, and I soon realized that I had to handle it with care as small metal objects began getting sucked into its orbit.

 

While working on these ferrofluid photograms, I had begun taking trips to Japan. I originally wanted to photograph volcanoes but became quickly sidetracked, documenting my travels. Most of the photographs were made with a  35mm and an 8×10″ camera. The 8×10″ camera has a circular mask on the inside, allowing for two separate exposures. This setup creates a photo collage of different images on the same sheet of film, and involves some improvisation and free association. While the center circular images are all taken in Japan, some of the background images are BW pictures and pans from my iPhone that I rephotographed with the 8×10” camera later on, after reloading the film back at home.

 

Matching the solar-like ferrofluid photograms with these pictures taken in Japan came out of reading stories about Amaterasu, the Shinto sun goddess. I am particularly fond of the tale of the Heavenly Rock Cave, and how Amaterasu was enticed to come out from this dark retreat and bring light back into the world.

 

The Shinto religion has made me curious about Kami spirits which represent the positive and negative characteristics of the natural world. This project includes drawings that are my attempt to visualize what an invisible spirit of nature might look like.

 

In 2010, I saw the Art of the Samurai, an exhibit at the MET. The Samurai helmets on display were highly crafted works of art, and it was hard to imagine anyone riding into battle with a massive praying mantis or rabbit ears on their helmet. The catalog from this exhibit has recently inspired me to work on a series of paintings and drawings of Samurai.

Oceanology-

In 2011 I began experimenting with large-format 4×5″ and 8×10″ cameras in specially constructed waterproof housings and have been using them to document coral reef environments. Governed in part by chance, this process-driven work is accomplished by taking one image per dive, and in most cases superimposing multiple exposures on a sheet of film during each trip to the bottom. In an attempt to reflect the complexity of the marine environment, I have experimented with sandwiching together positive and negative images from different dives. Here I have drawn inspiration from the montages of the early 20th-century German photographer Heinz Hajek-Halke, who created kinetic compositions by marrying positive to negative forms.

 

In 2022 I started to a use digital camera underwater to make images in grids. I have printed out some of these photographs, drawn on them, and rephotographed them with an 8×10” camera in garden settings as a way to accentuate the alien beauty of the undersea world.

 

My father studied coral reefs at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and this series began during trips to help him in the field as he approached retirement. The reef ecosystem has collapsed in the span of his career and the scope of this disaster is particularly acute to those who have worked in this discipline for so long.

 

Like many of my projects, I like pairing photographs with paintings, prints, and drawings. In this case, many of these depict sharks. Seeing a shark underwater, I have felt less of a threat and more in awe of their sheer beauty. These animals have been swimming in Earth’s oceans for hundreds of millions of years, and it is tragic to see how many are endangered today.

Vulkan-

This is a long running project and grew out of multiple visits to different volcanic environments. The dynamic nature of these landscapes can easily be experienced through return trips and it is one of the few places where instead of the human species altering the planet, the planet is altering itself.

 

Vulkan is German for volcano, and a bit of an inside joke for me. My approach to these landscapes began as a jumping point after taking in a lot of German photographers that I admired from the Düsseldorf School. The Bechers focus on typologies and anonymous sculptures are two ideas that I wanted to explore in a volcanic setting.

 

Volcanoes are the embodiment of forces beyond our control, but one of my main interests with these locations has been searching out and cataloging found sculptures. I am particularly intrigued by mimetoliths, a form of pareidolia, which is the psychological phenomenon where the mind perceives faces and anthropomorphic shapes in rocks and other inanimate objects.

Sugar Pepper

My grandparents moved from Scotland to the Caribbean island of Barbados in 1939 and many of my relatives still reside there. One of my cousins runs a small family farm in the interior of the island and I have had the opportunity to document it over the years. The farm has become a laboratory for my photographic output. I have found myself drawn to the plant life on the property, and the contrast between the cultivated plants and the wild ones that grow in the gullies around the fields.

 

The island still has an active sugar industry which faces problems in the global market. The last working sugar factory Andrews Sugar Factory, recently closed. It was an antiquated place full of pipes and gears for crushing the cane. The cane left over from the grinding process is called “bagasse” and is burnt in large furnaces which run the steam powered engines in the factory. Some of the equipment inside dates to the 19th century.

Hubbub

When I graduated from college I purchased an old 8×10” Deardorff camera that was made in the 1950’s. It was in rough shape and looked like it had been dragged across the pavement a few times. I wanted an 8×10” camera because no other device really captures the world in the same way, and most of my photographic heroes used them.

 

I have had this camera since I was 23, and it still is my work horse in a digital age. This series is not quite an ongoing diary but a collection of orphans that together project some snippets from my life. Along with the photographic images, I have included a selection of drawings done over the same time period.

 

Hubbub means a loud confusing noise, and I see this project as an online experiment to make some.

Paleo-

Paleo is a body of older work that involved the documentation of museum spaces with much of the focus of meterorites and dinosaur fossils. These are charged objects and are reminders of what geologists call “deep time”, and also point to cataclysmic events that shaped our existence. 

R.O.-

Random observations made on a variety of trips over the years.