Matthew Cetta

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Photogenic Alchemy

I started out my career as a photographer wanting to become a retoucher and I was obsessed with perfection.  But perfection is BORING!

The project started out with a modified toy camera.  I had converted a Holga to shoot 35mm film.  I’d take it with me 24/7 and shoot whatever I felt was interesting. At the same time the series started, I was coming out a deep depression.  I was terrified by everything, was agoraphobic, and couldn’t even get out of bed; let alone live in the seemingly bleak world that was out there for me.  So I decided ENOUGH!  Enough of the fear.  Enough of the self loathing.  Enough of the isolation.  I left my self-made prison to explore the world around me. At a quarter century old, I felt like a kid again.  Everything was new and everything was a possibility. I shot this new fascinating world taking street photos and landscapes.

However, the images were still bland to me.  It came to a point where I wanted to explore the medium of film itself.  I embarked on a journey that has led me here. Where is here?  Here is a place full of what ifs.  What if I electrified my film and then froze it afterward?  What if I introduced absinthe to the emulsion?  What if I was to soak the film in Ambien before I shot it?

Photogenic Alchemy is an exercise in controlled chaos and a study in the science of art. By breaking down silver salts and celluloid to it’s elemental form, I’ve created a dark and gritty apocalyptic world.  It is a world that seems to be dissolving right before our eyes.  Toxic and fascinating, each new roll of film left me intrigued.  I couldn’t wait to try the next substance on my ever increasing list.

I hope you enjoy looking at these images as much as I enjoyed making them.