The original world's first photograph “View from the Window at Le Gras” by Nicéphore Niépce was taken 1826. Those early photographic works were called “Heliographs”. The physiochemical terms of the new technology had not yet been defined exactly. That was a long time ago, but they still exist, so to speak, literally carried to extremes in my special heliographic works.
Claus Stolz (born 1963 in Mannheim, Germany) is a contemporary photo artist and probably one of the most radical practitioners of analog photography.
Claus Stolz studied Fine Arts at the Freie Kunstakademie Mannheim. Stolz has been working for about twenty years with this technique, which he calls “heliography“ - sun drawing or sun writing.
During an exposure time of a few seconds up to several hours the rays of the sun attack the photosensitive material, an intended but well-measured destructive process. Unique worlds of manifold color schemes and delicately structured designs originate within the bursting, melting and crystallizing layers of film. Grotesque monster heads, bizarre grimaces and surreal formations present themselves without being voluntarily depicted. By the focused action of heat the image carrier becomes the object, a small-scale piece of statuary art comparable to the slashed and perforated canvasses of Lucio Fontana in the 60´s. Traces of time and energy are merged onto the photosensitive paper and thus grow intriguingly visible and palpable.
The results depend on various factors -- material, exposure time, camera settings, the intensity of the sun light and the prevailing climatic conditions (e.g. interruptions of the exposure trace by clouds) and, most important --the control of the film developing. Traces of solar energy are burnt into film material through self-constructed devices and lenses with a diameter of up to one meter. The shots are thereafter enlarged on paper (up to 150x150 cm) or the film sheets are directly shown in light- or acrylic glass-boxes, depending on format and suitability. Film slides are sometimes projected onto hangar-sized walls. In the age of digital imaging his works hold a singular position in the history of photography (Translation Mo Zuber, 2014).
At first glance all this might appear simplistic, but the results depend on multifaceted factors, the challenge is to dominate their interplay and interaction and to test it out in many different exposure series: material, exposure time, camera settings, the intensity of the sun light and the prevailing climatic conditions (e.g. interruptions of the exposure trace by clouds) and, most important -- the control of the film developing. The pictures are in no way digitally distorted. Because of the extreme overexposure these photographs -- with a sometimes rather unexpected dark, not opaque background -- are either negatives, and are then enlarged as such without reversal, specially developed slides, internegatives or exposed film material that will consequently not be developed. The different color schemes arise solely from film in use and its processing.
I love to do this kind of concrete photography for many years, I love to work under the bright sun of Italy or southern Spain… I think, every ‘Sunburn’ combines an idea, an intimation of the contrast and the borders of our existence: extremely fragile, very beautiful. And you may ask yourself: Is there a God somewhere? Or does he simply exist in our heads? And thus we are personally responsible for what we are doing…
"Icons of a magical apocalypse, if you permit the paradox. Pictures showing the acts of destruction and obliteration in blinding beauty." Michael Stoeber