Glass plate reflective holograms
2019

“Distorting processes from photographic history, the vibrant patterns in these reliefs are caused by violent chemical reactions. In applying mordançage solutions to silver gelatin prints, Nelson bleaches selected areas and simultaneously lifts specific dark hues of the emulsion. This late 19th century technique is commonly appreciated for its stark contrasts, precise contours, and depths of light applied to create life-like portraits. In appropriating the historical process, Nelson suspends virtuosity and representation as photographic ideals. The works gouge a different potential application of the chemical bonds and—in continuation of feminist and queer abstraction—unfetter the constraints of resemblance to real-world referents. They call to mind Luciana Parisi’s cyberfeminist theory of microfeminine particle-forces emerging from non-linear reactions between potential and actual desires, resulting in intensifications of mutant desires.”


And I Awoke and Found Me Here On The Cold Hill’s Side, 2018
Gelatin Silver Prints, 20x16”

“And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side is a series of six images created from scans of book pages of a short story by James Tiptree Jr. Tiptree’s writing was celebrated for its direct tone, ardency, and fearlessness. The writer Robert Silverberg’s introduction to the 1975 edition of the short story collection Warm Worlds and Otherwise praises Tiptree’s language as one which could never be achieved by a woman. And yet, Tiptree was the pseudonym used by Alice B. Sheldon, a female author indulging in fantastical and dark psychological cosmic journeys inspired by pulp tales and lesbian sexual desires. In Tiptree’s short story And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side (1972), a reporter interviews a captain of a spaceport, who describes how sex with aliens has ruined his and everyone else’s lives. He warns the reporter to leave immediately to avoid contracting the same addictive obsession with travelers from another world. Tiptree’s short story has been ascribed to her repressed homosexuality. In writing under a male pseudonym and through the voice of a male protagonist, she insulated her subjectivity twice and achieved freedom to discuss her desires under these terms. In exposing the scanned pages as negatives in the darkroom, Nelson made the text on the back of the paper seep through to the front. Using a flashlight for exposure, with fast strokes of light caressing the photosensitive surfaces, she revealed the front and the back of the pages simultaneously, rendering the words illegible and conflating fore and rear, before and after.”





Sol 4,999, Silver-Plated Gelatin Silver Prints, 2018
10 x 8” each, Installation of 20 images

Sol 4,999 references a picture taken by the Opportunity mars rover as the sun rises for the 5,000th time during its extended mission, long after the vehicle was to be discontinued. Appropriating the image, Nelson created a series of halochrome prints, each repeating the same photograph. Bleaching and redeveloping silver gelatin paper, the halochrome process tones black-and-white prints by fusing colloidal silver into solid silver. This chemical stabilizing process raises questions concerning permanence, both of human and other life as well as of artifacts cast in rigid materials for future generations to find and marvel at. The prints also call to mind the way alien artifacts are imagined widely across popular culture, as metal objects with shiny surfaces. In depicting images of the sun, the work points to the medium of photography as a capture of light, while the repeated images formally resemble a fragmentary calendar, an attempt to measure something as abstract as time passing on a desolate planet. For Opportunity, the sun rose and set 5,000 times during 14 years of solitude on Mars. The title of the show points to another form of isolation. WarmWorlds and Otherwise references a science fiction short story collection by Alice B. Sheldon,who wrote under the male pseudonym James Tiptree, Jr. In obfuscating her identity, Sheldon insulated herself twice, both protecting herself against the misogynist attitudes cultivated in science fiction circles, and allowing her write about her own lesbian desires. Warm Worlds and Otherwise, the book and the exhibition, highlight desires to tap into other worlds, the serendipity in searching for the unknown, and exercises in abstraction that elude preconceptions while sounding other possible futures.”


“In recent years, tintype photography has met strong revived interest. Tintypes are created as direct positives on thin metal sheets coated with enamel. This studio technique enjoyed its widest use in the 1860s and 70s, when it was applied to produce small-scale photographic portraits for people to carry in their pockets, but also to document the American Civil War. Between nostalgia and novelty, the resuscitation of this procedure could be said to forfeit approaches of abstraction in photography, reverting instead to aesthetics of classical representation. In her Tintype series, Nelson borrows the technique to create geometric volumes in Photoshop, which then appear as positives on metal sheets. Combining analog with digital photography, Nelson generates abstract shapes on dark backgrounds that appear to have oozed out of a science fiction narrative. Her plates are exceptionally large and exceed the portable scale of traditional tintypes. The prints are mounted on triangular volumes that lift them out from the wall, distorting the boundaries between picture plane and physical space of the viewer.”