I currently have an exhibition of photographs up at the Community School of Music and Art in Ithaca. The show will be up through March. All the pictures were made in Ithaca several years back. Scroll down to read the statement I wrote for the show.
“Why can’t I be
As what I am
A wolf among wolves
And not as a man
Bonnie Prince Billy
Ithaca by Night
(Or a Wolf Among Wolves)
These photographs were all made in Ithaca, NY between 2009-13, only on winter nights. Music played a primary role in making these pictures. After my kids were put to bed, I’d dress up and head out into the night, with some Bose headphones to help keep my ears warm, and to keep me company too.
There were some harsh nights – I photographed in complete white-outs, and subzero temperatures – but I found an incredible peace, joy, and solitude going to malls, parks, drainage chutes, parking lots, and wetlands, seeing how much I could see in each of these spaces. I felt like I saw something never seen before, the rich landscape of Ithaca illuminated by a heavy winter cloud cover and the city lights. Over the years, I would revisit many of the sites repeatedly, trying to understand the passage of time only a photograph can document.
There were two records that I listened to over and over again while making these photographs – Master and Everyone by Bonnie Prince Billy, and Red Arc/Blue Veil by John Luther Adams. I still identify these pictures with the records, and even originally named this series after a Bonnie Prince Billy song, A Wolf Among Wolves, a song about finding beauty and melancholy together, reflected harmoniously in solitude.
I continue to work with and advocate for traditional photographic processes. There are ways of knowing found in the material processes it takes to resolve a photograph, each method providing its own perspective and meditation for creating images. The photographs here were all made with a Mayima camera from the 1980s, making 6x4.5 centimeter negatives. I shot a very slow speed film, but developed with an aggressive print developer. Using the print develop allowed for much shorter exposure times (though at times that did get as long as half an hour), and the slower speed film allowed for rich tones, and fine grain and detail in the final prints. These photographs are silver gelatin prints colored with various combinations of gold, silver, selenium, and Lipton tea.
Brian Arnold is a photographer, educator, writer, and musician living in Ithaca, NY. For more information, please visit my other blog, A Photographer's Journal.