John Steck Jr. (American, 1980) was born in Chicago, IL. He earned a two-year certificate in the Professional Photography Program at The New England School of Photography (NESOP) in 2006, his BFA in Photography at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design (MassArt) in 2010, and his MFA in Photography at The San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) in 2013. His work has been exhibited at spaces including: The Khaki Gallery in Boston, The Vermont Photospace Gallery in Vermont, The Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery in Reno, The Hallway Gallery in Jamaica Plain, The Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado, and such spaces in San Francisco as the Rayko Photo Center, Southern Exposure, and SOMArts. He worked as a Teacher’s Assistant at The New England School of Photography from 2006 to 2008, at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design in 2009, and as well as at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2013. Several of Steck’s hand-made artist books are featured in The Indie Photobook Library and his book Fragments, Volume One was selected as Best Books of 2010 on Photoeye.com by Larissa Leclair. Steck also just completed two artist residencies in 2013 in both Reykjavik and Laugarvatn, Iceland.
Photography is often understood as a medium that emphasizes the permanence of the end product—capturing, documenting and archiving moments in time. In this ongoing series of vanishing photographs, titled Lament, I draw attention to the materiality of photography and the memories it captures by allowing the images to slowly disappear.
By manipulating the image-making process of the photographs in Lament, I expose the artist’s hand, disrupt an institutionalized technical process that is typically taken for granted, and short-circuit the archival function of the photograph. Using gelatin silver paper, but with a nontraditional approach, these images are created without a darkroom or chemicals. Because of this, the photographs remain sensitive to light; and, in a fairly short, yet unpredictable amount of time, most of them will disappear completely.
I first started to use this process as an attempt to erase particular images that I found disruptive, both visually and internally, due to sensitive memories. These images related to moments of loss, nostalgia, fondness, and love. Having worked with this imagery and slowly watching them disappear, I have found that the image itself still remains imbedded inside me, yet the meanings behind them have become lost, and at times, desensitized. This concept has taken on a new meaning for this series both internally and through the process of image making itself. I have found myself considering the fleeting impermanence of materials, objects, images, and life itself, through a medium that is meant to act as a time capsule.
For more of his work please visit his website.