Gwendolyn Anne Davies

Contact Traces (working title), is a collection of daily lumen prints made by placing a piece of black and white darkroom paper that has come in contact with a liquid in the window every morning and removing it each evening. Going into lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic I struggled to create. Though I could continue with existing projects it felt as though I needed to make something that spoke to where we found ourselves today and I struggled to find a way to do so until I began to track the passing time with these images. Each image becomes a direct trace of the day that has passed. I believe they reflect how the current social-political-health environment we find ourselves in is creating a permanent imprint on our identities and understanding of our world. Each is unique and has an element of daily routine while also reflecting the instability and lack of control inherent to the process.

Though the project is fast approaching 300 days since New York State entered lockdown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic this project is relatively new and still developing. I see now the unique record of this pandemic that is being created. This project reflects both the helplessness and lack of control many have felt as well as our need to exert control over a daily routine. Many prints are imperfectly fixed due to the lack of access to a darkroom outside my home and show the stains of that imperfection while also, possibly, remaining in a constant state of change. I believe this subtle continuing change reflects the ongoing effect this time is leaving on us. Many prints feel softer after being fixed and their beauty becomes more subtle creating a parallel with the effect time often has of softening our memory and the impact we feel from something in the past. Some are intensified with the process of fixing which I believe is also the way memories, especially of trauma can feel.

While I originally set out to track time this project has naturally developed in phases that seem to reflect the process of living through this pandemic. Different phases will be realized online and in-person in differing ways to suit them. I had to go back to record something to pay homage to the days I couldn’t create and acknowledge that even in the haze of lost days we are growing, changing, preparing for the next phase. The next 60-100 days felt like I was realizing an orderly project, finding the routine and rhythm of this new way of being and making. Then, well then, I got lost in it, became overwhelmed, fatigued, and am only as we near day 300 finding my way back to feeling like I am in control. As a living, growing project I intend to continue to allow it to develop as time progresses. I believe that Contact Traces will eventually be fully realized with audio-visual multimedia components and written reflections alongside the visual images to create a full sensory experience.


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