Nicole June Wurstner is a visual artist living and working in Buffalo, NY. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in photography from The University at Buffalo in 2011. While at the University she was a recipient of the Rumsey-Cary travel Scholarship, enabling her to travel to London, England. Her work has been included in multiple group shows around Western New York such as Devil May Care Boutique, Ukrainian Cultural Center, UB Center for the Arts, Sugar City, and Rust Belt Books. Her photographic work varies from digital to film to alternative processes, including her recent experimentations with wet plate collodion.
My earlier work focused on self-portraiture and the examination of gender identities through the use of theatrical personas, masks, and altered appearance. By assuming various identities and self-expressions I examined the coexisting traits of vulnerability and strength.
In my most recent work, I build on this interest in identity, while exploring the vulnerability of memory. It reflects upon romantic loss in which the memory of a lover degrades and alters with time. The title Fragments refers to a term used by Roland Barthes in his book A Lover’s Discourse to describe “fragments” or thought processes a lover speaks to oneself during the course of a relationship when alone.
To achieve this work I use a wet plate collodion process first introduced in the eighteen-fifties in which glass or metal plates are coated with collodion (a mixture of USP Collodion, Alcohol, Ether, Cadmium Bromide, Ammonium Bromide, and Ammonium Iodide) and made light sensitive with a bath of silver nitrate. The treated plates are loaded directly into an 8” x 10” format bellows camera, requiring exposures of around forty-five seconds in length. After the plates are exposed they are moved to the developer, all while they are still wet. Due to these long exposures I have begun using other people as the subjects of my work.
The images are further manipulated by spraying the collodion onto the plate with assorted plant misters and spray perfume bottles, controlling lighting during the exposure, and developing the plates unevenly. The images that appear seem to emerge out of clusters of particles. The inconvenience, frustration, and uncertainty of this process injects a performative element into the work. The resulting images are scanned and blown up as large format digital prints that reveal nuances of the images that are not easily visible in the original plates.
These Fragments often appear nearly unrecognizable with a sense of incompleteness and deterioration, evoking the recollection of unattained desire. The figures seem transformed as if by emotional conflict and the passing of time.