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Artist of the Month: Impressions Captured in Emulsion

Westhampton sculptor Edward Batcheller uses photography techniques to imply fleeting moments on glass panels.

Artist of the Month: Impressions Captured in Emulsion Artist of the Month: Impressions Captured in Emulsion Artist of the Month: Impressions Captured in Emulsion Artist of the Month: Impressions Captured in Emulsion Artist of the Month: Impressions Captured in Emulsion Artist of the Month: Impressions Captured in Emulsion Artist of the Month: Impressions Captured in Emulsion

Edward Batcheller, of Westhampton, uses photo emulsion, glass and light in his artistic process, but he is not a photographer. Batcheller is a sculptor and considers his art akin to poetry. He makes compositions on glass panels and then combines them in ways that they create a singular visual exploration.

“I don’t have anything specific in mind when I’m making the panels,” he said. “I don’t start out with an idea in mind. I let the process unfold and go where it takes me.”

Where his art takes him is to fleeting movements and the sensation of seeing something moving out of the corner of your eye. These momements are captured with emulsion and light and transmitted onto glass. 

Batcheller’s translucent compositions can seem like memories or historic images from faded photographs. The shadows created on glass are made by “casting light on an object placed in line with the photographic plate,” Batcheller explained.

In effect, he is making photographic images and photograms on glass without using an actual camera.That’s where the similarities end. Batcheller’s compositions don’t present photojournalist scenes, landscapes, portraits or still life.

His interest is in presenting non-dramatic compositions that focus on the subtle relationship between grays and the visual values among them. Batcheller likes to create art that’s quiet. This is another reason why compositions feature shadows and the pale of the recognizable.

“I’m looking to pull people into a subtle experience,” he said. “The emulsion, and the way it peels and cracks, makes the work seem fragile. I’m interesting in exploring what happens when the image disappears. You still have something even if the original image isn’t there. You still have the imprint.”

There are recognizable images in his work but they are taken out of context. His art can have birds flying afar, cloud formations, plants or pavement. Sometimes his art begins with a locale. One body of work is inspired by the Peconic Estuary in Riverhead. Another series was inspired by historic cemeteries.

No matter which images make their way onto glass panels, they are always created by intuition. When making art on glass panel, Batcheller lets his thoughts roam and gives happenstance a free reign. The same process is used when incorporating multiple panels into a single sculpture.

Panels are arranged in a single plane or layered one behind the other or fashioned into a box. Panels are arranged relying on intuition without intent until a cohesive sculpture develops.  

Batcheller likens the process of the way poems are constructed. A single sculpture is made by combining panels to develop a unified visual experience, said. A poem is created through the careful selection of words and meter to imply a single idea.

“The work is more like poetry than narrative because they feel like an emotion or an experience like watching moving clouds or watching birds flying in the distance,” he said. “They really don’t tell stories but present images that can suggest something to the viewer.”

Lately, Batcheller has begun exploring ways to make the framework as invisible as the glass. By eliminating the impact of the wood frames or steel cables, Batcheller hopes his art will move closer to visual poetry, fleeting impressions and experiences remembered.

“I’m keeping my mind open and seeing what happens,” Batcheller said. “I don’t want to limit the possibilities before I even start.”

Batcheller’s art has been exhibited at Art Sites, The Remsenburg Academy, Southampton Historical Society, East End Arts, Guild Hall and multiple galleries in NY, FL and CT. He’s exhibiting in a group show with Cynthia–Reeves Projects this year.    

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