Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9781930066229 Published July 2004

Primal Images

100 Lumen Prints of Amazonia Flora

Jerry Burchfield

Primal Images
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Jerry Burchfield

Distributed for Columbia College Chicago Press

144 pages | 118 color plates | 8-1/2 x 11 | © 2004
Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9781930066229 Published July 2004
With its fragile beauty and dark power, the Amazon has fascinated people throughout the centuries. Enthralled by its exotic and impenetrable mystery on his first visit to the region in 1998, Jerry Burchfield sought to utilize his skills as a photographer both to celebrate the Amazon’s stunning beauty and also communicate his concern for its future. Primal Images is the product of his passion, composed of exquisite lumen prints created entirely without a camera or lens.

To create his lumens, Burchfield placed plant cuttings directly onto aged black-and-white photographic paper that he secured to the deck of his Amazon boat. He then let the beautifully chaotic interaction of sunlight, rain, temperature, and each plant’s inherent moisture and chemistry, among other factors, play out freely in prolonged exposures. The result is an astonishing array of images—from the starkly representational to pure abstractions of color, shape, and form—that powerfully celebrate the rare and resplendent beauty of the world’s largest tropical rain forest.

Burchfield’s photographic technique draws on methods formulated during the origins of photography, beginning with the shadowgrams of nineteenth-century pioneers William Henry Fox Talbot and Anna Atkins and, more recently, twentieth-century innovators Harry Callahan and Robert Heinecken. Yet Burchfield adds a depth to the process that, as Wade Davis writes in his foreword, “seeks to see beneath the surface of things to the very inner worlds that shamans desire to know.”

“Jerry Burchfield’s images are a testament to the respect in which he holds the natural world. There is a reverence in these photograms that moves them beyond the decorative, outside the scientific, and above the formal. Burchfield quietly collaborates with the form and rhythms of the natural, celebrates the authority and simplicity of his process, and respects the products and demands of time. His images reflect an artmaking sensibility more attuned to discoveries than to dictates.”—Tim Wride, associate curator of photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
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