My practice is almost entirely analogue. There is a small digital aspect but if I had to break it down I would say my process is 85% analogue and 15% digital. Everything starts from a 4×5 or 6×4.5 film negative, which is then edited in a way where I can influence the actual emulsion of the negative. I use various consistencies and dilutions of rubbing alcohol and inks to achieve the final result.
I am constantly working and re working images, so I often end up with half a dozen or so of the same negative but worked in various different ways and techniques. So then it is difficult to decide what is working and what isn’t, what do I like and what do I hate. It is often a fine line for me what is and isn’t working. The fun part is seeing what effects and alterations work with the image rather than simply to it. It is very important to me that anything I do to the negative works with the final print, so it actually seems as if the subject is fading away, dissolving, disintegrating etc.
I don’t like to consider myself a conceptual artist, I work very intuitively so there are a lot of happy accidents and discovery. I would say working with the material and the image is my first and foremost concern. While I do have a concept behind my work, it is secondary and not the driving force. However, there are ideas that interest me that help influence my ideas for composing an image. I am very interested in time, memory and life events and how those three mould and define our present identity. This really started for me after I got married and permanently settled down in Glasgow. I found myself thinking of the past and leaving the States and remembering things that happened in my teens and early twenties. Many were just random events but some were profound and definitely had a long-term influence on where I am today and for some reason I had completely forgotten about them until then. So I am very interested in what we do and do not remember and why and how these events in our lives have created who we are today. To me, my work visualizes the loss of ideas and fading memories, fragments of time that you can vaguely recall but not entirely.
I choose to use single subjects because I believe that as soon as you add multiple items – whether people, objects or structures – it creates a narrative. And often that narrative is not what I intend and leaves too much for interpretation. I prefer to have more of a sense of control. I was once told I have a very simplistic or minimalist style to the way I position and compose a shot. At first I was a bit offended but then I took a step back and looked at it and realized yes I do but it wasn’t a bad thing. I prefer it that way because it helps with controlling the image and making sure that the image is the be all end all, and that the concept comes second. That is what I want people to see. I want them to appreciate the work for its visual aesthetic and not what I have to say about it.
See more work by Jeff Edwards