Scattered Light: Birgit Blyth's Unusual Process
Birgit Blyth has been experimenting with a technique known as Chromoskedasic painting since the early ‘90s, a camera-less process involving the use of silver particles on black & white photographic paper to scatter light. Her artist statement gives more insight into this process, and takes an in-depth look at Blyth's identity as a photographer.
Though Birgit Blyth began her photographic career using conventional photographic methods, she quickly became more interested in alternative processes. In the mid 1990’s a colleague showed her an article in Scientific American and it was here that she first discovered the technique called “chromoskedasic” painting, which would eventually lead her to fully finding her voice as a photographer.
Blyth had always aligned herself with and been moved by abstract expressionist painting. The series of veil paintings by post-abstract expressionist, Morris Louis, was especially inspiring to her and caused her to ask herself how she could do similar interpretations photographically. In “chromoskedasic” painting, she found the answers and would begin on a new path in her artwork.
Grid No. 101, 2015, chromoskedasic monoprint, 24 x 20 in. unframed, $1,600
The term “chromoskedasic” is derived from Greek roots meaning color by light scattering. Developed by a by a world-famous ophthalmologist, Dr. Dominic Man-Kit, who was from Hong Kong and also an artist, this process exploits the capability of silver particles in black and white photographic paper to “scatter” light at different wavelengths when exposed to light and chemicals. In her mastery of this photochemical drawing process, Blyth has painted lush washes of color into her own “Veil Series;” she has envisioned landscapes, both rural and urban, with melting swirls and marbled colors into rich palettes of toffee and lead. She has used this essentially experimental process to help her “see” the world around her. Blyth says she continues to be fascinated by the process because it requires “a combination of discipline, experimentation, and imagination, making possible a wonderful balance between control and surprise.”
Seeking Spaces 8 (diptych), 2017 chromoskedasic monoprint; each piece is 20 x 16 inches, overall measurement is 20 x 32 inches, $220
Because the chromoskedasic work is all analog, Blyth spends much of her studio time in the darkroom, which has become a rarity in the current world of digital photography. She does however, continue her preference for experimentation in numerous directions, even employing aspects of the digital age – this exhibit will also feature a new series of pieces created with the now defunct but much loved SX-70 Polaroid camera, scanned and archivally printed on 24” x 24” fine cotton rag paper.
In Memory Of #23, 2017 14, 11 in.; 20 x 16 in. with white mat chromoskedasic monoprint $800
In Memory Of #14, 2017 14, 11 in.; 22 x 18 in. framed chromoskedasic monoprint $875 framed
Whatever the process, Blyth’s work is, as the painter and poet Peter Sacks noted, a blend of “precision and mystery, of articulation and atmosphere.” Her images leave us with the feeling of ongoing action despite the apparent stillness; of qualities both dreamy and stark as light hits a stand of birch trees in a valley or a group of buildings in New York City. As Morris Louis evolved a style of painting that produced a complete integration of paint and canvas, so too has Blyth, with photo paper and chemicals, created a perfect integration of method and content.
Opening Images (left to right):
Untitled 3, 2009, chromoskedasic monoprint, 20 x 24 in., $1,200
Untitled 6, 2009, chromoskedasic monoprint, 28 x 24 in., $1,200
Untitled 4, 2009, chromoskedasic monoprint, 28 x 24 in. framed, $1,400
Carrie Haddad Gallery | 622 Warren Street | Hudson, NY 12534
518-828-1915 | Open Daily 11 - 5 pm