The Pigment Change
The Pigment Change uses photographic processes naturally occurring in plants and organic matter, such as photoperiodism and photobleaching, to create photographic artwork, and explores photography in relation to other art forms including video, performance and installation.
The Pigment Change comprehends four chapters: Faire une photo, The act of producing, Family Album and Offspring where plants and organic matter are exposed to specific amounts of light and particular wavelengths to produce image-objects and photographic experiences that promote an expansive sense of the medium.
Using organic matter as photographic substrate, this project researches sustainable forms and materials in photography as part of a wider reflection sustainability. The four chapters represent Almudena's views on producing or causing existence, sometimes making a clear statement on maternity, sometimes focusing on the act of producing as such.
The act of producing
The Act of Producing is a series of single leaves and large-scale collages (1.5 x 2m) where images of hands in the process of cutting, selecting, examining, touching, modifying (etc.) nature are directly printed onto plant leaves.
To make each print, Almudena exposes the plant leaves to extraordinary amounts of sunlight for a period varying from days to weeks, so the leaves change some of their pigments from green to yellow. Plants and leaves have a survival mechanism to cope with overdoses of sunlight (energy) and keep their photosynthetic mechanism healthy. This mechanism is based on changing some of the chlorophyll pigments (green) present on the plant leaf by carotenoids (yellow).
Family Album and Offspring reflect on the idea of producing a child or re-producing. In Family Album , Almudena exposes negatives from her family archive directly onto cress cultivation panels to grow photographic prints. The selected negatives reflect on her education towards maternity and represent ideas linked to maternity and family such as legacy, hierarchy, order, unity and group identity.
Family Album plant-based photographs grow, develop and disappear. These photographs are on a constantly evolving state that on one side, questions the spaces and forms where photography exists, and on the other, reflects on the idea of using photography to leave a legacy in the current context of permanent crisis (environmental, social, economic, political and now sanitary too).
While choosing not to become a mother is often wrongly associated with genetic, emotional or socioeconomic factors (instead of just will), there is a growing number of women expressing an unwillingness to give birth because of the current unsettling state of the planet.
Selective reproduction strategies are also often used by plants, many of them, like desert plants, only producing two leaves in their entire life. In this time-lapse, Almudena documents the birth of a new leaf to express her views on maternity and her desire to not become a mum.
Faire une photo
Faire une photo is divided into two acts recorded through video and photography
Using a set of continuous lights for 3 months, Almudena creates an artificial spring in her studio, motivating 50 Poinsettias to produce new chlorophyll abundant green leaves while this diets also makes the plants to release white leaves (useless for photosynthesis). In this photographic performance, the artist and the plant work together towards a change of the leaves' pigments. Almudena considers both the performative processes and the physical output as photographic pieces.
In Autumn, the artist gives a precise restrictive light diet to a Poinsettia plant (Christmas plant) to force a change on the colour of its leaves. Using a black box, the plant gradually receives shorter exposure times to daylight, mimicking a photoperiodism process where the plant changes pigments, from green (typical summer leaves) to red (autumn leaves).
Photoperiodism is a process that should naturally happen, but due to light pollution in cities, Poinsettia plants do not go through any seasonal pigment change unless if immersed in human-made blacked-out spaces.