John Cyr’s series Developer Trays explores photography’s transition from analogue to digital which has greatly accelerated over the past two decades. In this fantastic multimedia piece produced by Cyr and Daylight, Cyr talks of his motivations behind the project, his fascinations with darkroom processes and the state of such processes in an increasingly digital age.
Cyr worked for five years as a specialist black and white printer, forming a attachment to his developer tray, becoming interested in the colours, scratches, stains and silver deposits that developed and changed over time. Cyr began to photograph his developer tray, recording the “fingerprint of the photographic process”. In February 2010 he began to contact other photographers or, in some cases, their estates. This began, as Cyr puts it, “a photographic scavenger hunt”, the reward of which is a this delightful collection and with it a specific and tangible reminder of the processes which have been a seminal part of the photographic experience for the past century.
Cyr makes an interesting statement about archive’s regularly overlooking these artifacts of photographic history because of there apparent lack of importance. Usually you’ll find a photographers camera or enlarger within a archive but rarely do you find an artists developer tray. Cyr however believes that each tray tells its own story, imagining the printers hand rocking the developer back and forth over a print and the moment when THAT image (whatever image that may be) miraculously appears before them.
Cyr has produced a really pleasing body of work, one I get a lot of joy from looking at, inspecting each tray. For me the entire darkroom environment is a sort of sanctuary, somewhere to get totally engrossed and lost within the photographic experience and it saddens me greatly to see such a decline in what was and is such a seminal and important part of photography. What of the developer tray itself? I always had my own favourite. Hit ‘read more’ for more great examples from the series.