Drawn from in camera source materials as remote as 1959, John Brill is a highly regarded self-taught photographer both in technique and presentation. Brill’s shift to photography followed his initial studies within the field of physiological psychology in the early seventies. After college, the artist drove a beer truck in the northeast corner of New Jersey absorbing the raw visual beauty of a vast industrial wasteland. Working with an extensive pool of unpaid assistants and models, Brill organized shoots like performances – traffic jams, crowds, things set on fire, various states of undress, beer in unlimited supply, cops invariably showing up – most of which were irretrievably beyond the comprehension of the participants.
Assembled here are several bodies of work that are psychologically resonant in a universal sense. While highly experimental, all of the prints here have their roots in a very formal photographic sensibility. Although it may seem counterintuitive this far into the twenty-first century, the absolutely transformative effects that can be achieved with such basic materials as potassium ferricyanide bleach can not be achieved with software.
“unpredictable, irreproducible, and potentially beautiful things happen when bleach, water, and fixer meet on the surface of a developed silver gelatin print, with subtle, ineffable chromatic effects across densities that, in turn, can further be augmented by toners having comparable differential effects across densities.” -jb