Welling employs simple materials like crumpled aluminum foil, wrinkled fabric and pastry dough and directly exposes them as photograms, playing with the image in the process of revealing it. Although Welling’s approach to photography is more conceptually oriented than poetic, the resulting image in Stowe (a direct photogram of a crumpled piece of cloth) somehow resembles a curtain, perhaps suggesting that an artificial even fictive component in photographic representation.
#17 Pink is a photogram, a photographic image produced without the use of a camera. Here, the artist placed plumbago blossoms on a sheet of eight-by-ten-inch film and exposed it to light. The negative was then projected onto Kodak Metallic Endura paper through a color mural enlarger and cooler filters to produce the multicolored print. Similar techniques were used to produce Stowe (2006), an ambiguous work that refers to the American writer Harriet Beecher Stowe.
James Welling has a long-standing interest in pushing the technical and conceptual boundaries of photography. His practice takes photographic norms or the representational field itself as its subject and, through material or digital manipulations, Welling investigates abstraction, turning everyday space or mundane objects into something uncanny but poetic.