RB from IPSEITY. Photo: Brendan Meadows

Brendan Meadows uses digital solarization and darkroom technology to create a shift in photography

Vancouver-based artist Brendan Meadows has had a successful career as a commercial photographer taking pictures of celebrities, musicians and models for the last 10 years, but IPSEITY, his latest collection takes his work in a new direction and opens up new possibilities for the future of photography. [article and exclusive video interview below]

Actress and musician Hayley Law. Photo: Brendan Meadows

Meadows showcases his first-ever solo exhibition of non-commercial work with the launch of IPSEITY at Liss Gallery in Yorkville on May 11 as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. 

Contemporary fine art presenter Brian Liss, president of Liss Gallery, says, “Meadows has created a unique body of work offering an intensity and aesthetic seldom seen in fine art photography.”

The series explores the core truth and nature of human identity, inspired by the concept of the “duality of self,” the meaning of the word ipseity. The collection marks the first solarized digital output to be realized and represents a landmark for the medium of photography. Meadows’ use of this type of digital technique to create a show is something completely new. 

Musician Grimes. Photo: Brendan Meadows

The body of work consists of 35 silver gelatin, selenium-toned, lith prints manipulated visually using the Sabatier effect. The Sabatier effect gives the images their solarized look of overexposure, much like a 35 mm black and white film strip negative before the image is transferred onto paper. Part of the process of achieving the unique look and feel of his work comes from replacing the traditional print method with the Durst Lambda 76 printing technology, a machine able to create a giant-sized negative, and then digitally solarizing the images in Photoshop.

The entire process from beginning to end consists of 35 steps, Meadows says, in our conversation at the gallery in Yorkville a day before the show opens. The combination of the methods used to develop the images and having it result in a show has never been done before in the history of photography. As a result, he drew a lot of attention from industry professionals during the year that he spent testing methods in the darkroom and putting the pieces together for the IPSEITY exhibition. The resulting work is not only innovative, it’s closer to fine art photography and as such, becomes more desirable to art collectors.

Meadows is known for his distinct portraiture work with celebrities as well as his photography for media and television networks. Notable subjects in this collection include musicians Leon Bridges, Grimes, Charles Bradley, Saul Williams, actors J.R. Bourne (Stargate SG-1, Teen Wolf),  Hayley Law and model Stacey McKenzie.

Brent Ray Fraser. Photo: Brendan Meadows

In the past he’s shot images of Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), Wentworth Miller (Prison Break, Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash), legend Ronnie Hawkins, and Polaroids of the late Princess Diana. He snapped a Polaroid of her at Expo ’86 in Vancouver at the beginning of his career when he was only 10 years old and already bitten by the photo bug.

See more photos from the IPSEITY portrait series by Brendan Meadows

I asked him about the process of arriving at the final look for IPSEITY and we talked about his influences, which I’ve shared in a series of short videos on YouTube.com/CoreMagazines:

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