Redwoods, Mendocino Botanical Gardens, California, 1987.
Platinum-palladium print on 100% cellulose paper (Fabriano 5) from original 8×10 inch negative.

Lotuses. Joseon Dynasty, 19th century. Joseon. ink and colors on paper. 95.0×41.2 cm. No.28945
from the Japan Folk Crafts Museum collection

“Why should one reject the perfect in favor of the imperfect? The precise and perfect carries no overtones, admits no freedom; the perfect is static and regulated, cold and hard. We in our own human imperfections are repelled by the perfect, since everything is apparent from the start and there is no suggestion of the infinite. Beauty must have some room, must be associated with freedom. Freedom, indeed, is beauty. The love of the irregular is a sign of the basic quest for freedom.”

Sōetsu Yanagi, The Unknown Craftsman, Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1972. pages 120-121

I owe a lot to Yanagi, as I try to express in words what it feels like to make and look at platinum-palladium prints. He writes about overtone, above, as an expansive necessity in art. In platinum and palladium printing, I think of it as the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, with the parts, or layers, modulating and modifying each other. The interplay between the visible layers interact with the perceptual and physical layers: what is in the negative and what is rendered in the print are the result of these parts.

(This is why I post three versions of the same print, along with a standardized color target, in all of these blogs about scans from prints. To give a better sense of the interplay.)

These parts, or overlays may or may not be compatible with each other, but, just as in the improvisatory music of Thelonious Monk or Ludwig van Beethoven, the fact of having been brought together in terms of the medium creates a harmonious whole.

As the visual experience shifts not only across the surface, but also enters into the dimensional expression of the print, I encounter texture. (The detail views.) Texture includes some of the most singular parts of photography: what the image is of, how the tonal information interplays with the paper, and how it ultimately leads us to consider what is the image about. Paper presents itself not just as surface but also as a kind of interior. Together, the print renders as texture, one that is at the same time ordered and chaotic, unchanging formlessness, always making a ‘suggestion of the infinite’.

Click on above image to view detail or full scan