2020 - Present

For a time, I used no cameras at all. I made pictures only at night, wading into rivers and bays with silver gelatin paper and color film. The images are a product of the land, moonlight and my facilitating hands.

I feel like a translator: I introduce the water and surrounding flora to man-made, light sensitive surfaces. The land intuitively impresses her own subjectivities upon them. I return to my human community triumphant with photographic evidence that the Earth is alive and constantly creating; the pictures are a starting point for deeper understanding between viewer and landform.

This concept of creating photographs with the land has evolved into working with site-specific natural materials to form pinhole camera apparatuses. In 2020, I frequented Mussachuck Beach in Rhode Island. I gathered empty shells of quahogs, the native clam, from the shore and transformed each shell into its own light-tight environment. Loaded with 35 millimeter color film, I returned each quahog to the sand and opened their apertures to Mussachuck sunsets. Through the resulting photographs, we see what the clams see.

The pinhole images, like my cameraless works, tap into a pre-existing visual language of the planet. The cameras render their subjects unrecognizable, yet the forms and colors are primal and familiar. Through ritualistic performance that involves the creation of photographs that access a visually awesome, metaphysical plane, I believe this project has the capacity to guide my viewers and I to rediscover our innate, spiritual connection with Earth.

I have imagined several variations of the CLAMCAM apparatus. The original rig for the quahog shells can be seen below. Next time, I think I will just bury the clams in the sand with the film inside.

©Madison Emond
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