Brian Buckley: Ghost Ship
247 West 29th Street, New York
June 1 – July 15, 2017
“Ghost Ship” is an installation of unique, large-scale cyanotype prints. Through the use of a 19th-century photographic process that pre-dates silver-based practices, the artist employs its naturally rich, blue tones to endeavor to express his thoughts on the beauty and mystery of the vast seas and his long-felt fascination with the power and danger of deep waters.
Incorporating aspects of Greek mythology into the project, the artist uses these stories to express his own personal experiences at sea. Loosely drawing from the narrative and imagery in The Odyssey—a text taught by Buckley’s father at City College in New York City—the artist’s prints reference ghost ships and sea monsters, sirens and Sappho.
Brian Buckley sources his chemicals and mixes them by hand in small batches before applying them to watercolor paper. Often creating layers of multiple coats, the artist covers his sheets with light sensitive chemicals using a variety of tools from sponges to brushes and glass rods. Buckley plans specific types of applications appropriate for particular subjects, and his hand is evident in and integral to subtle variations in the final artworks. Employing more straightforward photogram techniques in concert with digitally enlarged negatives, each cyanotype is distinct and one-of-a-kind. Exposures range from a single hour up to three full days.
Brian Buckley’s work has always centered on analog photographic techniques, celebrating the orchestration of light, chemistry, and papers, harmonizing process and image. After an eye-opening photography course in college, Buckley quickly threw himself headlong into the darkroom. His first job was for renowned paparazzo photographer Ron Gallella, printing older work for publication. Then, while attending Parsons School of Design on a foundation scholarship, the artist began working in commercial labs in New York City. At Ken Taranto Photo Lab, Buckley worked under master printer Ira Mandelbaum. He then was employed by photographer Shelia Metzner, managing cross-processed large format Polaroid film. After later spending a few years as the overnight shift printer for Color Edge in Chelsea, Buckley finally ended up processing work and problem solving darkroom challenges for artist Adam Fuss. Working with Fuss solidified his commitment to the powerful language of analog photographic processes.