charles grogg

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about crema

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I used an iPhone to make images of crema—the rich foam that forms on my morning espresso—in the summer morning light. These relatively uninteresting experiments in isolating the patterns in the foam as it dissipates became much more interesting in the process of making negatives of the images for platinum printing.

The immediate and physically simple transition from positive to negative colors rendered haunting possibilities—the universe unfolding like cells on a slide, or impossible planets brimming with the promise of sustainable life. In my art practice, I am most interested in the fundamental rejection of the apparent by photographs, in the idea that pictures hold their meaning in abeyance, the way the unconscious— to a trained and curious mind—is clearly visible in our actions but otherwise elusive. In this sense, even the apparent accidental arrival at meaning in the pictures seems destined, as if I had been after these images without understanding them.

Though I made slight adjustments to the digital images as I would have analog images in a darkroom, I left them almost entirely without affect. The blue in these images, for example, is the natural negative of the beige/brown color of the crema, though brown coffee has nothing to do with these pictures. They come instead from processes, not from things.


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