Recollection of memory

Recollection of memory

In an age of connectivity, where a simple “enter” allows us to acknowledge or deny love online, we are losing our connection to powerful memories from the past. The era wherein writing and reading letters was an act of affection, carried out with unwavering devotion seems to be behind us. Following a similar trajectory perhaps, in an era of digitalization, the dark room is now forever shrouded in black.

In this AltLab Residency, the five of us are exploring this lost medium once again. I have chosen to work with the Van Dyke process with which I have been trying to develop a new relationship for the past 3 to 4 days now under the guidance of the very friendly and helpful Chaitanya. It sure is a tough friend to make considering that the formula of Van Dyke Brown is very difficult to handle.

The three chemicals that I am experimenting with to develop images in this process are:

1.       Ferric Ammonium Citrate (0.3 gms) mixed with 11 ml distilled water

2.       Tartaric Acid (0.5 gms) mixed with 11 ml distilled water

3.       Silver nitrate, the most dangerous of all as it can cause marks on your skin and also blindness, (1.2 gms) mixed with 11 ml distilled water

I mixed these three chemicals and left them to be for 24 hours.

Then, with 1 ml of the mixture on a brush, spread it on the surface of the postcard and expose it in UV light for 45 minutes. Noting down the temperature, humidity and exposure time is imperative. The postcard is then washed in simple running water. Then, 120 gms of ammonium bicromate (hypo) are mixed with 1 litre distilled water to make a fixing agent. The postcard is then washed in 400 ml of the fixer for 5 minutes. Consecutively, it is washed in a tray of running water for 15 more minutes.

This is how I printed my first Van Dyke Browns for this Residency.

English translation courtesy Saee Haldule.


About Sketchbook of a seeker

B. Ajay Sharma is a contemporary visual artist, who formally studied painting in India's two renowned art institutions. However, his works cover a wide range of media including drawing, painting, sculpture, conventional and revived techniques of photography, durational and site-specific installations, as well as new technologies. He takes drawing as a vehicular aspect of his thoughts. Elaborating on the the notion of Bhava, performance and alternative photography enable him to engage with external space as opposed to his internal visual thoughts. He has been exploring ‘THE YOGA VASHISTA’ for many years, and works on the concept of breath as a unit of his unitary existential visual currency. Born in 1986, B. Ajay Sharma studied art at the Faculty of Visual Art, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi (BFA in painting in 2007) and later earned his MFA in Painting from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi in 2009. He has taken part in H0~ArT - exhibition of Art at Hyderabad State Gallery, India. His last solo show PARADOX (2015) took place at the Instituto Cervantes, KKUM.DANG.INDIA (2015) curated by Inseng Song at Korean Culture Centre,(2015), Al REVELAR curated by Julia Villasenor at Vadhera Art Gallery (2015), New Delhi, Art & Breakfast in Malaga, Spain (2015). His work was exhibited at the India Art Fair 2014-15 with Neilson Art Gallery, Spain and Wonderwall, New Delhi. He was at a residency in Spain followed by a solo show “Thanatophobia” (2014) at Neilson Art Gallery. In the same year he participated at 2014 Degenerate, curated by Blessy Augustine at Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi. In 2013 he attended a two-month ALTlab photography residency at Goa Centre for Alternative Photography (Goa-CAP), as an artist/photographer as well as at Taipe Photo Art Fair Taiwan. His works were part of ‘Ye Hai India Darling’ curated by Pia Camilla Copper, at XVA, Gallery DIFC and XVA Bastakiya, Dubai. In 2014, he set up a space called ”स्याह-घर" (pronounced as Syah-Ghar in Sanskrit and Hindi) meaning Dark-Room. He opened up this space to develop community-based-practice of alternative photography studio in New Delhi (India).
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