For Let There Be Light: The Black Swans of Ellen Carey, the artist introduces another new photo-object, the Finitogram. Here, she gathered abandoned sheets of photographic paper bearing random chemical marks striking a pose as light drew. She sees the once-hidden, latent image become visible. Like her practice in Polaroid, the object begins at the zero of an unknown time, made somewhere in the void of the dark room, and left behind unfinished. However the object may have travelled through Dada, Surrealism, and Duchamp’s ready-made visitations; her re-invented ready-made now presents as a new ‘self’. Ellen Carey’s Finitogram, from the Italian non finito for incomplete works of art, re-interprets the photogram, its legacy, and its practitioners. It reverses the circle of time in its image-making. The medium’s picture signs in landscape, portrait, and still life, and individuals’ names do not exist. In their places we have a 19th century term ‘camera operator’ with the unnamed, unknown Anon – new companions in the category of vernacular photography.
The historic photogram re-named as ready-made adds to Carey’s handbook guide through photography’s nearly two centuries’ arc of light, photogram, colour and Polaroid. Photography Degree Zero (the artist's Polaroid practice) and Struck by Light (her darkroom practice) visually consult Talbot, Daguerre, and Anna Atkins, the powerhouse tripod of 19th century game changers. Talbot’s negative-to-positive duality of the photogram-as- image is doubled, while Daguerre is mirrored in the glossy polish of Polaroid’s pristine surface and crisp picture. Talbot’s soft-focus, non-color compositions in blurry outlines see light’s shadow while Prussian blue sees colour- as-light transformed in Anna Atkins’ cyanotype images.