Paper marbling is an ancient painting technique that’s been practiced everywhere from Turkey to China. The process involves dripping and dragging pigments through a shallow canvas of water, creating abstract patterns from the interaction of two liquids of differing molecular make-up. Alkama, a series of photographs by French artist Frédéric Fontenoy revives the technique–with a crucial twist.
Alkama caught our eye on But Does It Float last week. In the series, the 49-year-old Fontenoy substitutes blood and milk for water and ink, creating eerie storms of bodily fluids captured on film. So, yeah–the squeamish among us may want to skip over to the next blog post.
“Alkama is an experiment, related to alchemy,” writes Fontenoy on his website. “The vital fluids, red and white, male and female, female or male, mingle–[the experiment is] whether they will interpenetrate or reject.” The artist captured each swirling experiment just as the two liquids began to interact, resulting in detailed, organic forms that seem more related to landscape photography than anatomy.
Fontenoy seems fascinated by the body. Métamorphose, a series from 1990, captures long-exposure shots of distorted human forms, streaked across bleak landscapes. His most recent work is book of bizarre, turn-of-the-century erotic photography that is–reader be warned!–extremely NSFW.
Would we feel differently about Alkama, if it turned out the images were made with food coloring? Absolutely. By painting with the two liquids that human bodies rely on for life, Fontenoy points out how infrequently we acknowledge our own biology, and the beauty therein. Each image, he explains, is an act of creation: “each time the process is repeated, a new universe appears.”
[Images courtesy of the artist; h/t But Does It Float]