JANE EVANS & THE SIERRA GORDA MOUNTAINS
Photography came into being through an artistic urge. Luis Daguerre was an artist, a scene painter whose illusionist diorama was a landmark in Paris long before he announced in 1839, his daguerreotype process, underlying chemical and optical conceptions of using light sensitive property of silver salts to record the optical image. This was discovered by no one man but was the outcome of the early observations of the alchemists and chemists on the action of light. Therefore, the use of photography did not occur until there was a demand for pictures following the rise of the bourgeoisie well after the French revolution.
The first criticism in photography was a comparison with paintings and drawings and no other standards of picture making existed. Photography’s ability to record a seemingly inexhaustible amount of detail was marveled at again and again.
The technique of photography was immediately recognized as a short cut to art. But formal art education had a definite purpose over and above the mastery of technique. The discipline taught the art student to observe and it gave him a feeling of the significant moments of time and an intuitive sense of composition.
In the hands of artists, photography quickly showed its artistic possibilities.
In England, a heyday of photography followed Scott Archers invention of the collodian process in 1851. This new technique rapidly displaced and made obsolete the daguerreotype. The new process, which was free from patent restrictions, attracted amateurs and artists alike.
The introduction of the dry plate in the 1880’s attracted and increased the numbers of amateurs to photography. These same amateurs were responsible for many of the innovations which came to photography throughout the late 19th Century and early 20th. Photographers could buy ready made plates and process them at their convenience. Since then, numerous advancements have been made in this extraordinary medium; better cameras, new developing techniques, new and better chemicals and so on: the original daguerreotype 1839, bromized daguerreotype 1840, wet plates 1864, early dry plates 1880, the dry plates of 1885, dry plate of 1900, dry plates of 1931, modern fast film, etc. Perhaps the greatest breakthrough has been the digital camera both for still photography as well as motion picture and its shot-gun wedding to the computer.
But the artist’s use of the different techniques and controlling power must be conditioned by two major factors: the nature of his recording process and the nature of the image he wants to record. There is frequent misunderstanding in the belief that the camera’s image reproduces nature as the human eye sees it. Nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, its ability to record things as the unaided human eye can ever see them, is one of the most important attributes of photography. The human eye can focus on but one small area at a time; consequently, we observe an object or a scene only by allowing our eyes to rove over it in a series of short jumps. The assortment of images thus recorded is flashed to the brain which sorts and edits them. The camera’s eye makes no such distinction; every detail within its field of vision can be recorded instantly. In its ability to register fine detail and its ability to render an unbroken sequence of infinitely subtle gradations, the photograph cannot be equaled by any work of the human hand. But the human sensitivity and artistic output can determine photography as a work of art.
Photography has continued to evolve over the last century. With the use of a digital camera and a computer, the artist Jane Evans has been able to connect the Sierra Gorda peaks and valleys to bring us a panorama of this exceptional mountain range. The camera recorded the details that the artist’s eye could not see but it is the artist’s sensitivity, her innate taste in choosing light and angles, plus the awe she felt in visiting these mountains that led her to try to achieve on printed paper the feeling of the mountains majesty.
Originally a superb creator of aquatint etchings of semi abstract landscapes, Jane Evans has delved deep into the photographic medium with equal intent and masterliness. This series of the Sierra Gorda mountain range is visual poetry. So impressed is the Canadian artist with this part of the world, she has built a small paradise for herself in one of its valleys which she calls home. So impressed are we with this series of photographs, we can only thank the artist for presenting them to us.
- Marge Failloni 2006, Independent Curator