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Apparition: Cyanotype Postcards from J Fredric May May 10, 2018

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Lens Culture, Metaphor Online , trackback
Photographer: J Fredric May

A graduate of Brooks Institute, J. Fredric May received his B.S. in Commercial/Color Technology and was accepted into the prestigious Eddie Adams Workshop in 1989.
He made his living as a photojournalist and commercial photographer traveling all over the world, telling visual stories with a signature style of bold color and confrontational composition. He won numerous state and regional honors.
As a filmmaker, May directed more than 50 corporate and industrial films and helped raise more than 7 million dollars for non profit organizations. He won Telly and Cine Awards for his creative film work and national awards for his corporate and nonprofit clients.


During open heart surgery in 2012, he suffered a major stroke leaving him legally blind and subject to vivid visual hallucinations. This life event changed his artistic vision, opening up an entirely new visual style. The result is his current project, Apparition: Postcards From Eye See You.

Where others might have been discouraged or quit photography altogether, May embraced his unfamiliar perspective: “With profound curiosity and a life-long habit of experimentation, I picked up my iPad and started to explore. Because I was raised by inventors and engineers, I embraced regeneration as a way of life, so I focused my limited attention on what could be invented and created.”

To produce this series, May used imaging software to corrupt visual data. He explains, “I was effectively able to replicate what was happening in my own brain. I scanned found portraits, maimed their component features and rebuilt them as layered composites to resemble how I now see, in fragments, somehow familiar, yet strange. I take my layered composites and print them as cyanotypes, and then bleach and tone them with a mixture of photo chemicals and tea.”

 

In the very last step, May digitizes the cyanotypes and alters them further as he sees fit. The final images are like soft, hazy, mosaicked memories combined with intricate, focused fragments. The result is a testament to how the photographic process, as a medium, transcends static, repetitive, or mechanical use, and with each frame offers the real possibility to create something truly new.

—Cat Lachowskyj

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