Roman Road is delighted to present E.I. / Transition, a major new solo exhibition by Antony Cairns. Featuring a selection of his New Daguerreotypes (2015) as well as his most recent abstract lith prints, the show will explore Cairns’ innovative approaches to photographic printing and will present the latest developments and works from his contemporary oeuvre, evolved from his experiments with electronic ink.
Inspired from his newest publication LDN EI (2015) – a digital photobook made from recycled e-book tablets – Cairns has taken the idea of photographic printing to new levels, developing a series of works that present his contemporary photographs petrified in electrophoretic ink. While plugged into the computer, the selected image is uploaded to a salvaged e-reader, left untouched and then disconnected; due to its bistable display, the image on the screen is retained even when all power sources are removed. The screen is then taken apart from the device, halting any interference from the electronic impulses that could alter the display and leaving a lasting image. Exhibited for the first time at Roman Road, these resulting works form Cairns’ New Daguerreotypes.
Invented by the French artist and physicist Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, the daguerreotype was the first publicly announced photographic process, which became extremely popular when it was introduced in 1839. Originally produced on highly polished silver-plated sheets of copper, daguerreotypes are unique, highly detailed photographic images, often viewed in small, ornamental cases employed to protect the photograph from tarnishing. Due to its silver surface and delicate amalgam coating, the longevity of the print was put into question and still remains uncertain for those that survive today. Notwithstanding the advances in technology and in modern photographic practices, Cairns’ New Daguerreotypes raise a similar question of the photograph’s permanence, this time, however, due to the undetermined lifespan of an E Ink display screen.
Baring images from his ongoing LDN, LPT, and LA-LV series, Cairns’ New Daguerreotypes take us on a journey through some of the world’s busiest cities, augmenting the constantly changing urban landscape through a curious and spellbinding architectural record. His monochrome images document the metropolises at night, capturing the built-up environments devoid of people yet brimmed with bright, glaring lights. Originating as black and white negatives on film, Cairns has produced aluminium and paper prints and most recently his digital stills to explore new and innovative methods of printing his nocturnal pictures and to at once develop a new way of creating an archive that is relevant and consistent with our culture today.
Alongside Cairns’ New Daguerreotypes presented in a specially made plexiglass display frame, the exhibition will feature a selection of the artist’s new lith prints featured at differing heights on the walls. Using standard black and white photographic paper and special lithographic developer, Cairns has photographed and reproduced the transitional images that appear as you flick through the pages of his digital book LDN EI, documenting the passages that link together his entire archive. In exhibiting these two new series, E.I. / Transition provides an intriguing look at how the artist has evolved his contemporary projects.