High voltage images by Phillip Stearns
- Caroline Kurze
Phillip Stearns takes the idea of our camera being an extension of the eye literally to an extreme. He is bending, cracking and breaking the medium to explore similarities and differences to our cells in the retinal.
For his practice, he applies various household chemicals to the surface of a film before and after he snaps it with 15,000 volts. In a flash, arcs spread out across the surface, sometimes burning holes, even igniting the film. As in our eyes, images are conveyed in a stream of such electric impulses, only here amplified some 300,000 times. Stearns says: “I find it curious and exhilarating that the impressions left behind after developing these extreme exposures so perfectly resemble networks of blood vessels in the retina.”