JOHN STECK JR. // Lament


Photography is often understood as a medium that emphasizes the permanence of the end product—capturing, documenting and archiving moments in time. In this ongoing series of vanishing photographs, titled Lament, I draw attention to the materiality of photography and the memories it captures by allowing the images to slowly disappear.

By manipulating the image-making process of the photographs in Lament, I expose the artist’s hand, disrupt an institutionalized technical process that is typically taken for granted, and short-circuit the archival function of the photograph. Using gelatin silver paper, but with a non- traditional approach, these images are created without a darkroom or chemicals. Because of this, the photographs remain sensitive to light; and, in a fairly short, yet unpredictable amount of time, they will disappear completely.

I first started to use this process as an attempt to erase particular images that I found disruptive, both visually and internally, due to sensitive memories. These images related to moments of loss, nostalgia, fondness, and love. Having worked with this imagery and slowly watching them disappear, I have found that the image itself still remains imbedded inside me, yet the meanings behind these photographs have become lost, and at times, desensitized. This concept has taken on a new meaning for this series both internally and through the process of image making itself. I have found myself considering the fleeting impermanence of materials, objects, images, and life itself, through a medium that is meant to act as a time capsule.