Mariah Robertson’s C-prints at NOMA Gallery are tactile, warped celebrations of the physical process of color photography rooted in the medium’s tradition of experimentation. Manipulating the fundamental interactions of light, paper, and dyes through the exposure and chemical processing of photographic paper and film, the artist revels in the range of possibilities afforded through adjustments in saturation and contrast. The results combine clean geometry, liquid color transitions, subtle fades, and traditional imagery within a remarkably unified collage aesthetic. The pieces are titled numerically, in direct opposition to their decidedly unmechanized production.
130 (2010) is a dark field of alternating purples and cold blues bisected with a light red glow. The surface of the print is filled with photograms, which the artist created by laying translucent slices of rocks and minerals directly onto unexposed photo paper as it was introduced to light. This piece updates the photographic experiments by Richard Parry in the 1930s and by Lázsló Moholy-Nagy in the ’40s with the ecstatic color found in the work of Robertson’s celebrated Brooklyn contemporary Ryan McGinley.