Chris McCaw: Sunburn


Terminal 2

June 2013 - August 2013

Chris McCaw: Sunburn

"My work combines art and science - it’s grounded in the physical world and immediately connected to place."
- Chris McCaw
Pacifica, California 2013




Sunburned GSP #683 (Sunrise over San Francisco Bay in twelve negatives)  2013
Chris McCaw (b. 1971)
gelatin-silver paper negatives
L2013.1901.001 a-l


On a camping trip in 2003, Chris McCaw discovered that the intense force and power of morning sunlight had physically changed the film in his camera, creating a new way for him to understand photography. The sun burned its path onto the light-sensitive negative. After many hours of extremely intense light exposure, solarization occurred, which is a natural reversal of the tonality due to overexposure. In this process, the sun becomes the subject of the photograph and transcends the notion that a photograph is simply a representation of reality, when its light waves literally move inside the camera to permanently brand the negative.

In 2006, after much experimentation, McCaw began using vintage, fiber-based gelatin-silver, black-and-white photographic paper–placing paper, not film, in the film holder, creating one-of-a-kind paper negatives. For Sunburned GSP #683, McCaw tracked the sunrise on the west side of the San Francisco Bay looking east, near San Francisco International Airport. To keep the sun in the center of the frame, the camera had to be moved for every single paper negative. McCaw calculated the number of exposures, selected the best optic and camera format (size of the paper negative), then finally, decided the desired position of the sun's movement in each frame. Had he photographed the sun close to the equator during an equinox, the camera could have remained stationary as the sun rises and sets in a completely straight vertical.
Chris McCaw was born in 1971 in Daly City, California. He has continuously pursued the artistic and professional advancement of the medium of photography. He received a BFA from the Academy of Art University (formerly Academy of Art College in San Francisco). His work can be found in numerous museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; London's Victoria and Albert Museum; George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, New York; Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive; Portland Art Museum; and Santa Barbara Museum of Art. He resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and steadily pushes the boundaries of analogue photographic media through his ongoing project Sunburn.
Photography is not permitted.
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