Starn Studio Statement on the Carbon Printing Process

The carbon process is one of a family of historic photo processes, which rely on the ability of aluminum or potassium dichromate to harden gelatin when exposed to ultra violet light. The process was first invented in 1855 by Louis Alphonse Poitevin Poitevin produced monochrome prints made with carbon black pigment, giving the process its name. In 1862 Louis Ducos Du Hauron created the earliest color prints by combining multiple layers of gelatin made with colored pigments. Because it is a pigment process, carbon prints are the most archivally stable color prints available, and are capable of unparalleled depth and saturation. This depth is enhanced by the relief effect, which is created by the layering of the gelatin tissues.

Reviving this process, Doug and Mike Starn allow individual gelatin layers to rip and peel back, exposing the layers beneath, they speak of impermanence, of the transitory nature of existence, and of the hidden light and life which exists in everything. Their use of gold leaf as under layers and illumination, bring these unique prints into a prowess of alchemy and artistry.

The Starns photographed Guanyin in the Asian Galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), using a “Leaf” digital back mounted to their medium format camera. The artwork becomes a time vessel metaphorically and philosophically. Through this painterly photographic process the artists reconcile both historical extremities of the medium, while they continue carving their innovative lexicon, making the tensions of the coincidence of opposites a visual harmonious reality.

Gaudéricq Robiliard
Director, Starn Studio
310 Fishkill Avenue
Beacon, NY 12508

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