CASE STUDY: Timo Lieber | Black Box Projects | PHOTOFAIRS

CASE STUDY: Timo Lieber | Black Box Projects

C-Blue #4, 2018, Cyanotype 117.5 x 167.5cm, Unique | PRICE £8,300 ex. VAT |

Timo Lieber is up next for Case Study, a feature running alongside our digital exhibition PHOTOFAIRS PRESENTS: Cyanotype. The first in a year-long series of online initiatives by PHOTOFAIRS to support artists and galleries working in photo-based art PHOTOFAIRS PRESENTS: Cyanotype showcases the work of 16 artists.


A selection of Lieber’s work is available to purchase now, click here to discover more. 


Tell us about your C-Blue series on show in PHOTOFAIRS PRESENTS: Cyanotype? 

I have spent a career documenting climate change in the Arctic by returning to the area and photographing the melting glaciers and changing landscape year after year. My shock at the fast and irreversible changes in the region motivated me to approach my documentation of this climate change in a more immediate way. I wanted to capture the physical process of passage of time and record the traces of ice melting and started creating large-scale cyanotype abstractions by using ice, sunlight and time to chart the metamorphosis of the melting ice rather than merely document the result.

What inspired you to create these works? 

The physicality of the ice crystals melting on the surface of the paper leaves traces of its presence and records a new reality in its absence. Just as the glaciers melt in the arctic to reveal a new landscape, my cyanotypes in the C-Blue series capture what is lost, what will never be again. The resulting works are abstractions in tones of blue and white that utilise the foundational photographic process of the cyanotype to speak to contemporary issues of climate change and social responsibility.

What appeals to you about this traditional printing process? 

I love the cyanotype process and the creative opportunities it provides. My aerial photography works are about capturing the finest detail in a landscape at a given point in time, using highest-resolution medium-format cameras. To get it right, I had to meticulously plan my shoots, often months and sometimes years in advance. I was getting the detail, but I also wanted to photograph change over an extended period. That is not easily done leaning out of a helicopter. Going back into the darkroom and working without a camera was a revelation. By using a new method but continuing from my previous work, I feel I develop a deeper connection with the subject matter.

What is the most challenging stage of the cyanotype process? 

Imagining the result and then achieving it. So many elements are at play: from the conditions I am creating in the darkroom to the way I let ice interact with my canvases. I work outside the studio to expose my images, and it is fascinating to observe how an evenly coated sheet of paper comes to life.

What’s the biggest breakthrough that you’ve achieved while creating C-Blue? 

I love photography for allowing me to share my take on the reality in front of my lens. In cyanotypes, I was able to add my impressions of the subjects I am photographing. Making cyanotypes is as close as I got so far to creating anew. That did not happen immediately though but after ruining more paper than I am willing to admit.

What did you learn by using cyanotype?  

Like many, I had a very utilitarian view of cyanotypes. I saw them mainly as a way to copy, often in a smaller format, rather than create. Many hours in the darkroom and by the exposing tables later, I am in awe of the artistic possibilities it affords.