Tokyo Darkroom Style 4
While previous entries here have shown makeshift setups in homes and apartments, my good friend Jesse has been able to utilize a proper and fully equipped darkroom on a US Military base in Japan. It was here where he made prints for our joint exhibition in Tokyo in October of 2014. Jesse writes that…
Although I do have an enlarger and all the equipment needed (except for a timer) I prefer to print in a proper darkroom. Also, Tokyo apartments and having a dog further hinders the darkroom at home idea. Living in the suburbs of west Tokyo, I am close to a US air base. I am not military but I have connections to get me in. I originally studied ceramics on base as the classes were cheap and the ceramic teacher is Japanese. He had seen my Leica M3 one day and asked if I still shoot film- then informed me the facility had a darkroom that no one used anymore. I asked to see it and was blown away since much of it was untouched and even still had developer from the 50s (apparently it saw a lot of use during the Korean War). So for a fee of $3 dollars a day (chemicals included) I use the darkroom on base.
I was first introduced to darkroom printing three years ago through my friend Thomas Beswick. Since then I’ve gotten better from experience at the base darkroom. I have a sort of love-hate relationship with darkroom work as I had a stubborn belief that my photos are taken and made through the viewfinder, with development being simply confirmation of what I saw. Recently I have gotten into making photograms and these have got me more excited about what I visual ideas I can explore in the darkroom.
Of late I have been into Japanese woodblock prints- especially the work of Hiroshige- whose landscapes feature white horizons that slowly become denser and thicker toward the top of the frame. Thanks to my darkroom experiences I realized that through dodging and burning I could achieve similar expressive skies. It is the small discoveries like these that make the darkroom special to me. I find it a sensual and rewarding creative process.
More darkrooms online:
- Worldwide Local Darkroom locator powered by Harman