Our deteriorating past may quietly be captured in fragments by a shutter released during the moment of a photographer’s visual rapture. As they experience a tranquility in pigeons cooing, whistling winds, rustling leaves gliding across stone floors as shutters and doors bang against walls; the flap of torn vintage wallpapers or even a drizzling drip from dilapidated roofs, on occasion distant footsteps or voices breaking the warmth of a familiar solitude, there is the moment, the decisive moment expressed by Cartier-Bresson. But for this photographer, the decision to trip the shutter is not predicated on the action before the lens but a manifestation of what the photographer feels when environments once integral to individuals and societies engage not only the visual, but all of the senses. This visual preservation has momentarily stopped the physical deterioration of these manmade sites but more importantly can inform viewers of the remnants of their grandeur as well as the emotional connection over time. Now the application of a vintage process like Argyrotype can transform the image into a dark rich seductive print evoking an ethereal beauty honoring these now abandoned monuments of mankind’s ingenuity and presence.
The modern Argyrotype is Mike Ware’s simplified adaptation of Sir John Herschel’s Argentoype, an iron-based silver printing process utilizing a digital negative in contact printing with a UV light source. The process is affected by many factors leading to contrast and color variances from chocolate brown into burgundy brown tones, making each handmade print unique.
Fragments of the Past represent a selection of Juliet Lai’s printmaking work from exploration of secluded locations in Europe. Besides indulging on the aromas of the B&W darkroom as a photographer in residence at ELAC Photo Dept, she also functions as an Emergency Department/Trauma Pharmacist at which some of the knowledge of pharmaceutical compounding can be applied to the alternative photographic processes.
For more information about Juliet Lai and her works please visit