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With my cameraless project “Mind of a Photographer” I experimented with Cyanotype and Contact Printing, finding a new medium of self-expression. I have been diagnosed with a micro-aneurysm and a peripheral neurological damage and I suffer from anxiety disorder, culminating in panic attacks during stressing situations like medical examinations: in these circumstances, I usually seek refuge in my imagination.

Mental images are important elements for a photographer, this is why I decided to create this series of “medical self-portraits” to depict my own brain during a creative process generated by a situation of distress.

Inspired by blueprint, a process introduced in 1842 by Sir John Herschel, consisting of a contact-print reproduction of technical drawings generating a blue negative image, I used a series of Magnetic Resonance Images (negative prints), directly applied on solar paper, recreating the inverse process: from negative to positive. This path is also important since it represents that mentioned situation leading to positive mental images starting from a state of anxiety. Blueprint is a word often used as synonym of “plan”, which is something that can be linked to the working process of the MRI scan machine, that divides in “layers” the images of human anatomy and physiology.

I washed the solar paper into a bath of home-made 9g/L saline solution: this concentration of salt is similar to the one that can also be found in tears and human blood, liquid elements that, somehow, define who we are emotionally and scientifically speaking. Subsequently, these images have been scanned to conceptually recall the process of the MRI scan machine that generated the original negatives used during the creations of my cyan-blue prints.

Images have been printed on Hahnemüle Pearl paper, made 100% of cotton, to minimize environmental impact, consistently with the re-use of medical materials and with the use of sunlight to create my imagery.

Images from “Mind of a Photographers” are artifacts, a word that Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines as “objects showing human workmanship or modification as distinguished from a natural object”; but focusing on MRI, visual artifacts are anomalies seen during the visual representation and not present into the scanned body. This is why the final visual result of the creative process may vary according to the brightness of sunlight, temperature, exposure-timing, original negatives and saline solution (“machine-related”), but also by minor movements caused by a state of anxiety during the medical examination (“patient-related”) or artistic choices and decisions (“photographer-related”), generating differences and visual disturbances on the exposed solar paper.

Ansel Adams stated, “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it”  and with this project my aim was to directly expose “those inches” to all viewers.


(Images-colours may vary due to web medium-resolution)

©Dayana Sharon Marconi 2019. Copyright for this photo gallery belongs solely to Dayana Sharon Marconi. All materials may not be used or downloaded without her permission.


Created in: Rome, Italy & London, UK.