Time and Space: Fiona Annis

Fiona Annis, In the elsewhere of the event (cold river). Silver gelatin print, 5″ x 4″, 2018.

Many of the works in this exhibition were completed in advance of Annis’s Naples residency, underscoring the importance of experimentation in the creative and scientific process. Think of how the many variations of photographic technique came to be developed. These discoveries required much study, experimentation and imagination.


Silver gelatin printing refers to the material that is printed upon, usually paper, that is manufactured with layers of light-sensitive material. This printing method was developed in the late 19th century so the printing material could be used years after it was made, rather than the wet-plates which had to be used right away. The effect is typically a monochrome black and white image. 

Three women and a man working in a photography darkroom, Washington, 1911. University of Washington Special Collections, Industries and Occupations Photographs Collection, accession no. 546.

The paper is coated with several layers to maintain the stability of the image. The base layer, the baryta, is opaque white gelatin and barium sulfate which provides a smooth base. The middle layer is the gelatin binder that holds the silver grains (silver bromide and silver chloride) that form the image, topped by a protective layer of hardened gelatin. 

During exposure, light causes a chemical reaction, reducing the silver halides to silver metal. The areas where more light is let through the negative or the area around the object if contact printing, become the shadows or darker areas of the print. This latent invisible image is made visible by the chemical development. After a stop bath, the fixer (sodium thiosulfate) binds with the unexposed silver halide which can then be washed away by water, leaving the silver particles behind forming the image.


As we dig deeper into the intersections of photography and astronomy, we can complexify and question the hierarchical conception of progress and the future. By diversifying the techniques in her artistic practice, Annis brings forth the value of knowledge from the past and in turn creates new knowledge, or even something altogether unknowable. Thus, time can be fluid and subjective, not just linear.

Photography can make visual the way that we experience time – the past is experienced in the present and the present is preserved for the future. When we think about a photograph, we think of a singular moment, a tiny fraction of a second, frozen in time. Often, historical photographic processes required exposures (the time it takes for the light to form the image) that lasted several minutes. Even the light from the sun takes eight minutes to reach our eyes. This time is collapsed, lost to us.

We hope that you can experience this shift in perception when you see these works in person. Please join us this Thursday, July 11th, from 7 to 9 pm for our opening reception. The artist will be in attendance to introduce her works.