Chemical Reactions – Mariah Robertson

„All your attemps are gonna fail at controlling life. So you should let that go so you can actually see what’s happening.“    – Mariah Robertson

Mariah Robertson installation „Photography Lovers‘ Peninsula,“ installation at M+B by Mariah Robertson (Jeff McLane, M+B Gallery, Los Angeles)

I’m interested in chemical reactions. Mariah Robertson, too. She combines those with photographies and patterns.
No optics involved, no brushing on top, only chemical reactions on this one flat piece of paper. Manually developed in the dark room.
The materials and chemicals can be picked but up to 75% of her work: Chaos, experiment, luck, chance, intention, call it instinct, desaster, magic. Simply, it cannot be planned.

This way of lost control creates something which goes beyond. It puts the human artist out of the center of control.
This time, for once I can say: The journey is its own reward. A subordination of the human being, changing its role from playing a decisive part to a subsidiary one, visualized by the result of the process of Mariah Robertson’s art.
This artist knows her recipies well. Her way of creating which involves experimenting with temperature, concentration  and mixture taught her recipies for various colors. For example, Green resulted „when the developer was colder, and when the developer and fixer had mixed there started to be some Yellow and Orange“. The possibilities of experimenting seem endless. „Sometimes there are areas where I don’t know what’s happening“, she says and states that „the good ones are those where [she] exceeds the plan.“

„You try to control everything but you can’t!“ as Roxana Marcoci, the Senior Curator of The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, sums up Robertson’s work.

But what makes „Chemical Reactions“ by Mariah Robertson transhuman?

Human’s loss of control. The observing, passive part playing a greater role. Powerless interactions. The chemicals creating in its own way. The unknown result. Playing with parameters but never knowing every formula. Never enough knowledge. Endlessness and infinite possibilities. The abstract. Educated, controlled chaos. Transcendence – The more.

That’s at least what I see in it.


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