Emily Masuda is an active follower on our Instagram! She has been submitting to our weekly photo contest for awhile now and we have always been intrigued by the photos that she submits. So we reached out to her to ask her some questions and see if she was working on any specific photo projects.
Q: What got you interested in photography?
A: What first got me interested in photography was when I was a young child and I would borrow my dad's point and shoot camera. I would use it to take pictures of my cat Franklin and other things around my house. My dad noticed that I really enjoyed using the camera so he gave it to me. However, I stopped shooting photos for many years. It wasn’t until my first year of college when I purchased my own digital camera that I began to take pictures again. I didn't get into film photography specifically until I started taking film classes at Delaware County Community College. One class that really sparked and fueled my inspiration and passion was my alternative process photography class which is where I learned the cyanotype printmaking process.
Q: We noticed in some of your black and white images you chose to include the sprockets on either side if the negative. What drew you to include this in the final image?
A: I decided to include the sprockets in the final image because I honestly really like the look of them. However, I also decided to because I think that digital platforms strip film photography of its identity. I think that by leaving them in the final image bridges the gap between film and digital.
Q: The image of the doll and the image with the white and red lights seem as if they were taken through a magnifying glass to distort the image. These are very different from your other black and white film photos with the sprockets. What do you like about these that is different from your other black and white photos?
A: These multiple exposed photographs were taken with a Holga 120N at night. I really enjoy shooting with this camera because its rewarding and a challenge. In a way, it’s kinda like calculated gambling. When shooting with it, you don’t really know what you are going to get, but you have somewhat of an idea. This adds to the fun and excitement in post-development and is similar to the surprise of opening a pack of trading cards!
Q: There are three photos within this collection that seem to relate to a project on stereoscopic images. What is the intention behind this project?
A: The intention behind this project is for my viewers to experience and reflect on the early 1800 to 1900 time periods and their similarities to modern times in regards to the pandemic and fluctuations of the stock market in the approximate years 1820, and 1920. This experience is achieved by showing cyanotype images, a process invented in 1842, through the view of a stereoscopic viewer, invented in 1838, while Chopin: Nocturne plays in C minor written in 1837. I was inspired by the artist Neil Harbison, when choosing the song Nocturne, because he is an artist who hears color but cannot see it. It is evident from his artworks that he hears Ludwig van Beethoven’s piano sonata no 14 in C sharp minor as a Prussian blue color, which is the same color as cyanotype, and by playing it in the same key, the same color can be achieved.
An interesting side note: In 1837, the first-ever market “crash” the panic of 1837. Due to Jackson’s economic policies, the market crashed and Martin Van Buren (8th president) took the burden to fix and was blamed for the economic downturn of Jackson’s decisions. I chose not to display the political cartoon photograph of 1837 up close because the image was too dark to illuminate by my current setup.
Q: The image of a leaf in a triangle with an image of tree bark behind it is really interesting and is different from all of the other images. How was this photo made? What inspired you to create this?
A: This photograph was made by using cyanotype and watercolor on rice paper. Originally, I was striving to create three-dimensional models from cyanotype images that represented the five platonic solids, which are air, fire, water, earth, and ether. When exploring this idea, I created a tetrahedron, which is the platonic solid that represents fire. I made it from a triangular cut out of the mirrored image of burning wood. At the same time, I had also been experimenting with watercolor on cyanotype to see what results I could get. Although the three-dimensional images seemed like a good idea, they did not turn out how I had hoped. However, I accidentally discovered this image from the triangular cut-out that I had laid overtop of my painted leaf print. I was excited about what I had discovered since I almost discarded the leftover paper entirely. I decided to create another image of the burning wood and cut out a triangle with an X-Acto knife to create an image that captures the element of fire and the life cycle of trees when burning them as firewood.
Q: A majority of the images seem to be cyanotypes. What do you enjoy about this process of making a photo? What are some of the challenges you face?
A: I really love the cyanotype printmaking process! I get most of my inspiration from this process, so much so that I even created a series from this inspiration called Glass DNA. The remaining cyanotype photographs I am sharing are part of the series called Glass DNA, which are kinda like glass fingerprints. I was inspired when creating this series by the cyanotype photogram process in conjunction with the glass-making process. I produced glass objects in an introductory glass class at Tyler School of Art, and I was fascinated by the notion that while producing glass, every touch of the instruments used to create a piece is permanently imprinted in the glass! As a result, glass retains memory, and no two handcrafted pieces are exactly the same, which is similar to photograms. Similarly, photograms seize every moving object on the photosensitized page and the fact that no two photograms will be truly identical (especially when using the sun because of its ever-changing location). Additionally, cyanotype is the most accessible darkroom process, and the colors happen to be one of my favorite color combinations. I would have to say, one of the most challenging series of photos I created with this process was printing the cyanotype on glass. It was a very tedious process and the results did not come out as I had anticipated, however, it is something I would like to explore further as well as cyanotype on wood.
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