Dust To Dust

(inkjet prints using the ashes of the subject)

Dust to Dust is a body of work that speaks about nature, the cycle of rebirth, and the photographic process. In The Treachery of Images, René Magritte paints a tobacco pipe but clearly states “This is not a pipe” because what we are looking at is just paint. Similarly, photography is merely a representation of the thing, but it is really not the thing at all. This idea got me thinking about how the subject and medium could be one and the same. What if a photograph of a leaf was printed using the leaf itself?

I have developed a method in which I am able to produce a digital inkjet print using ashes rather than ink. I call it an Ashprint. It goes like this: I photograph a leaf, burn it and collect the ashes, filter them through water, and then pour the solution into an empty ink cartridge. The final product is a representation of a leaf, but it is actually also the leaf itself. By referencing the common phrase “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” from burial services, I am bringing forth ideas of life and death. In death, physicality of the object is lost, the body, yet the representation or recollection of the object remains, the memory. Therefore a simple image of a leaf made by its own ashes becomes a metaphor for life, death, and rebirth.

Selected Ashprints

The Dreaming State