Collage, chemigram, chemogram

In 1963 filmmaker Stan Brakhage made his collage film Mothlight, one of his most celebrated works. Brakhage lived in a rural environment and was affiliated with the countercultural movements of his time. In Mothlight he applied the wings of moths directly to the filmstrip, using moths that had died from the heat of the light bulb that had attracted them at night. Brakhage combined the wings with blades of grass, flower petals and other organic, translucent materials. These organic objects were suspended on the filmstrip with tape and the composition was subsequently printed to permit projection of the film. In 1981 Brakhage made the film The Garden of Earthly Delights in which he used a similar technique, this time entirely focusing on plants.

Parallel to such experiments with photograms and collage, photographers have experimented with images made by applying chemistry directly on photographic emulsion. These type of images are often referred to as chemigrams. Photographer Pierre Cordier has contributed significantly to the development of the chemigram, using varnish, oil and wax to paint images on photosensitive paper, subsequently developing the untouched parts of the paper with normal photochemistry. Artist Josef H. Neumann conducted such experiments by selectively painting over latent photographic images with chemistry, combining a painterly and a photographic impression. Neumann called his process chemograms (introducing an o for optics).

Karel Doing, Goldenrod (Phytogram) 2021