juan alonso



Melanotype (Photography on skin), variable dimensions, 2005

The Project “BODIES UNDER THE SUN” comes about from a search of the “essence” of photography. Based on the word “photography” that comes from the Greek root “Photos” that means light, and “Graphis” meaning drawing, the act of drawing with light has been developed in objects of high technology and millions of pixels but basically is nothing else but an evolution of the camera obscura

Photographic supports have also changed and evolved but always under the principle of “changing” by the action of light, by being photosensitive. In this evolution the diverse solutions silver-based have been changed by digital sensors where the change is no longer physical but becomes now virtual.

I have tried to work in this Project with two of the elements that are closest to the human being; on one hand the skin whose photosensitive properties come to take the place of the photography paper, with melanin as a substitute for silver halides. On the other hand, the sun whose ultraviolet light substitutes the condensed light of the amplifier. In this say, by means of a plastic and self-adhesive mask that has been cut from a photographic image, the photographic image is obtained by placing such a mask in contact with the skin, and exposing it to the sun for a certain period of time in order to obtain the photosensitivitized image.

The process is also a mixture of photography and painting. Melanin is a pigment produced to protect the skin and the body from solar radiation, which brings it close to painting, which is based in pigments. Nonetheless, in order to produce melanin the protective cells (melanocytes) must be stimulated by ultraviolet light, which means that they are photosensitive, that is to say, photography.

Consequently, if we think in a sensitivitized image in a photography paper which we call “a photography”, when replacing its support by skin, by a human body, this result might be as well be called “a photography”. The body, the human being shifts from being the creator of photographies to become himself photography: “I am a photography” could be the answer of he whose skin has been used as support for the creation of an image by means of the sun light. We are no longer the creators of photographies but we may become photographies given that the most photosensitive elements close to us are our very selves.

I have also worked the project of body images in their own bodies. The photographic portrait has always been used as a way of memory, of lasting register of the image of what “was” at the moment of being photographed, and that never more “shall be”, at least not with that shape, with that appearance, in a specific fragment of time. The Project contains the paradox present in the image of oneself, but it is an ephemeral image whose captured time shall not last but for some days, maybe some weeks, and then with time the image will disappear by the very action of time, and of the “living” and “organic” transformation of its support, as it happens equally with any other analogous or digital photography born out from light but for ever threatened by the same life that created it.   

As a conclusion, the Project is a search for a syntheses between man and photography, how they are and may become just oneself; how the great invention of Nièpce and Daguerre is inherent to us: our skin is a large photographic paper in which we can manipulate the sun light to draw on ourselves.

The project obtained the first prize in the category of “Young” at the "II BIENNIAL ASAB. PHOTOGRAPHIC PRACTICES ", in 2005.

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