I whisper my equations to her; they are orderly and balanced.
She knows this, and replies with the chemical formulas for salt, for devotion, for intimate confession.
The stories and photographs in Quintan Ana Wikswo’s The Hope of Floating Has Carried Us this Far (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2015) strike a balance of power that is exceedingly rare in books that combine fiction with photography. This has something to do with the fact that text and images each occupy a more or less equal amount of page space. But more important is the fact that Wikswo is equally deft with words and photographs. The densely-layered, impressionistic, and yet coherent images in her book seem to have been created with specific stories in mind and yet they can all stand on their own as complex, intriguing images. At the end of the book she briefly comments on her methodology as a photographer who uses salvaged government cameras.
Everything in the photographs is achieved in camera, through old fashioned mechanical and optical and chemical means – the colors, textures, shapes, and multiple layers in the photographs are all created using only the unique aberrations of the cameras’ optics and the chemistry of the film. The negatives are scanned and printed without digital manipulation. When working with an 80- or 100–year-old camera filled with rust, dirt, cracks, and battlefield detritus, each responds uniquely to the film, light, and lenses – most of their calibrations aren’t standardized. It takes a tremendous amount of time to build a sufficient working relationship with each camera to produce even one image. This level of obsession is a good way to learn to watch how the world glows.