I’ll be the first to admit that when The Impossible Project released their Magentatype film earlier this month, I was a tiny bit skeptical. However, I love IP film, and have never been disappointed, plus I already had a project that I was working on where this unique film would work perfectly for me, so I ordered some for myself. I’m so happy I did, and plan to order more and more until they run out. With that said…
I have always been fascinated by my Irish ancestors. I have been able to uncover so very little about them, which has always haunted me. I know next to nothing about them – I mainly just know that they existed, and that they came to the U.S. in the mid 1800’s. That’s it. No stories, much less any photos. I also know nothing of any of my female Irish ancestors – only my many-great grandfather and his brother.
The project I am working on at the moment explores this unsatisfied need to belong to a culture and a history that I think many Americans in my generation experience in one way or another. Sure, we have unending natural beauty here, which I love, but we lack the castles, cathedrals, town squares and landmarks that date back centuries and millennia, tying us to those who came before us.
I wanted to see what would happen if I appropriated images of Ireland from the 1800’s and early 1900’s in a modern (and in the case of the Magentatype film, punk rock-esque) way. Using the Impossible Lab, I’ve transferred what were, most-likely, glass plate negatives at one point in time to instant film. They are images of women who are of no relation (or maybe they are, who knows…) to me – they are someone else’s ancestors – and places I have never seen, but still feel a connection. Being able to hold the small, instant images makes the faces and locations feel even more personal and familiar.
I’ve amassed quite a collection of these instant images already, and they consist of portraits of women, Irish landscapes, towns, and also images of New York and Ellis Island. I have no idea what I am going to do with them – if I’m going to make a wall o’ instant film in my office, or use them to make emulsion transfers. For now, I’m just enjoying them for what they are. Beautiful black/white/magenta mementos.
The original images came from the Commons over at Flickr, from the National Library of Ireland, so if you have a few hours (it can be addictive!) be sure to browse their collection.