Holly Murkerson’s studio is a fantastic space, which is split into a space for making and a space for thinking, writing, and researching. She works in various mediums, currently focusing on photography, writing and sculpture. Throughout her work, she uses light and language as her raw materials. I started the visit asking Holly about her cyanotypes.
Holly’s interest in cyanotypes started with an experiment, where she coated paper with chemicals and installed them in her windows, to explore the concept of collecting light. She created several pieces with this process, always exploring the relationships between interior/intimate space and the outside world. She continued to develop this idea by recreating, through her own drawings from old photographs, Emily Dickenson’s bedroom wallpaper using the cyanotype process (A Desk at a Window). She spoke about Dickenson creating her best works during the time spent isolated in her bedroom, which led Holly to think about Dickenson’s room as a camera, collecting light (ideas). (Holly’s writing about this) The cyanotypes serve as a record, not only of time and ideas, but also memories and intimacy. They have a secretive quality, where the viewer might never fully understand them but is aware of their essence.
The conversation continued on to Holly’s series Horizontality, five color film prints installed on the wall horizontally. From a far the images seem like minimal horizons whose photographic quality is not fully apparent. The photographs are actually representations of dust and light and upon further investigation the tactile qualities begin to emerge. You feel the richness of the medium as you explore the images individually, as they were taken on a large format camera and printed in a color darkroom.
Trying to process this work as a whole is confusing and conflicting, but in the best way possible. The more I tried to understand it, the more confused I became and the more time I wanted to spend with it. Holly presented a range of words and ideas, such as entropy, threshold, horizon, depth, ‘infra-thin’ (a term created by Duchamp), and then I began to process.
The photographs play with depth, through the camera and perspective, but are then restricted by its seemingly simple composition. We view and experience them as landscapes, though they are images of dust, a residue of our existence. These images transform into windows between the intimate/personal space and the outside world, a concept she continues to explore. The photographs present visual, conceptual and psychological dichotomies, requiring the viewer to fully engage.
As the visit came to a conclusion, Holly and I were discussing a video experiment (above) that I had seen before. It is a humorous and quick experience that in my opinion creates a wonderful pause for her overall work. As a result of this conversation, we began to play with my video camera and created the video posted below. Not sure of its purpose but it was extremely nice to engage with Holly not only through conversation but also through play.