12 Private Spaces: The Backyard Project Tintypes : Rebekah Rocha

Private Spaces: The Backyard Project Tintypes

As the gateway between public and private, the backyard is at once a playground, a privilege and an escape. In this series, I explore this veiled world, the banal and the fantastic; the nature and artifice, documenting what happens there and archiving objects I’ve found. Beyond the promised privacy and security from fences and hedges lies a curious place of fantasy; where gardens, work sheds and secret paths reflect the desires of their owners and exist in a state seemingly isolated from the outside world.

Like an archeologist, I am interested in the use of this personal space and the remains left at these places. In my images I explore what happens there. I ask how is the space used, who is using it and how has it changed over time? Through photography and collecting I am looking for ways to record what I have discovered for others to experience.

Collections of objects found in these backyards form the foundation of the dry plate tintypes photograms. Resembling x-rays, they stand as reliquaries of sorts for the actual objects; they are unique, precious and intimate. From found bones, to plants, discarded toys and tools, these images exist as shadows of items
left behind or generated in the backyard. Immediate and direct, the tintypes themselves become objects, the metal plates continue as more permanent icons of a forgotten treasure destined to decay over time.

To make each dry plate tintype, a metal plate that has been painted black is hand coated with a liquid light sensitive emulsion and left to dry in the dark. Once dry, found objects are placed on the plate, exposed to light, and developed in a reversal developer, which allows the dark background of the plate to become the shadows. The resulting image is unique and shows the individual characteristics of the hand coating process.