Powerhouse Books is to publish Developer Trays, the body of an ongoing project by fine art photographer John Cyr. Intended to document the transition of photography from analogue to digital, the images hone in on the apparatus of silver gelatin printing, the most practiced photographic format of the last century and to Cyr the “fingerprints of the photographic process”.
The project, starting in 2010, saw the documentarian contact individuals and institutions, from seminal photographers Sally Mann and Bruce Davidson, to the photo studio At the American Museum of Natural History, and ask to photograph their darkrooms’ developer trays. Each as varied as the work they shaped, stained by remnants of silver and the wear-and-tear of careers worth of work, what seems at first thought like a fairly dull subject matter opens up a world of intrigue in the subtlety of their appearance and the history engrained in each. People often speak of the chance nature of analogue, yet the skill required to manipulate the almost alchemical process is analogue’s parallel to the arduous post production methods undertaken in the world of digital photography, represented by Cyr here in his choice subject as a kind of means of memorial as the format pales into disuse.
Below is a video by Daylight Magazine in which the photographer speaks of the works in the context of the project, the fairly monotonous yet strangely heartfelt monologue seems as accurate a representative of the intrigue in this series of commonplace objects as could be.
Developer Trays is available March 18 2014 with Powerhouse Books.