Developer Trays: Merging Professional and Personal Work

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In this lecture, John Cyr discusses the genesis of his most recent work, "Developer Trays." With an unrivaled passion for the darkroom and all its accouterments, Cyr set out to document the developer trays of many of the world’s most renowned photographers, such as Ansel Adams, Sally Mann, Sylvia Plachy, Aaron Siskind, and Joel-Peter Witkin. Cyr celebrates in stunning large-format color photographs the intimate materiality of the developer tray itself and the ephemeral presence of the artist within it. This revelatory work showcases the ubiquitous developer tray as an essential vehicle of analog photography that defies modern digital photographic advances: its material nature and functionality will not become obsolete.

Cyr’s profession as a master black-and-white printer began when he moved to New York City, in 2003. He has had the privilege of producing silver-gelatin exhibition prints for photographers such as Bruce Davidson, Barbara Mensch, Gordon Parks, and Mark Seliger. This line of work led Cyr to develop a project about the current transitory state of photography: what was once a strictly light-sensitive medium has dramatically shifted to a mostly digital discipline. Cyr talks about how his professional life as a printer has greatly influenced his own photographic projects, in ways that help attendees connect their own personal and professional work.