100 Creatives 2013: David Salinas, Computer-Less Analog Photographer
In a way, Art Attack is in the same boat as photographer David Salinas. We think modern photography's digital craze is kind of weird and sometimes silly.
"I work at a camera store and I think it's funny how people get obsessed with megapixels and high-resolution cameras," says Salinas. "I see people get caught up in the technology of photography and struggle to keep up with the latest and greatest cameras while the joy of producing images really becomes irrelevant."
Salinas works in 35 millimeter and 120 black-and-white and color negatives at his studio at El Rincón Social, where he concocts his own soup to develop prints that are straight-up shots of bleak landscapes and scene pieces that sometimes look like a still from a decaying early-1900s film.
"I enjoy shooting film because it really forces you to utilize the basic principles of photography," says Salinas, who doesn't even own a computer at the moment. "I love the hands-on feeling of producing a negative with chemistry and seeing the image fade in as my paper hits the developer."
Salinas, who has curated two major shows at El Rincón Social's gallery (RATIO and Hello Everything), recalls hearing something strange at work: "How many mega pixels is the human eye"?
His response: "Hahaha, who gives a fuck?" That's analog.
A work by David Salinas
What he does: Salinas, who incorporates on-location elements to produce the materials for his art, works in a style of analog photography that he says is "incorrect by technical standards."
"I don't use timers or thermometers, it's an intuitive process that feels relaxing and rewarding, explains Salinas. "I've been developing my own negatives and prints long enough to know what the results are generally going to be. I just remember doing things on spec the first few times, then really going experimental to see what my tolerances are for getting the results I want."
For his West Texas series, Salinas used water from a well in Terlingua to develop his negatives.
"It's a way [that] I can physically blend the locations with the recorded images. The water was very high in mineral content, giving the whole series a unique look," he says. "I love the whole process of wet darkroom printing. I feel like there are very few photographers that are making 100 percent handmade prints."
A work by David Salinas
Why he likes it: That his process is more comparable to a painter's than a stereotypical photographer.
"I generally don't write down anything or keep notes on my recipes. I like the fact that I really can't duplicate things," says Salinas. "My prints and negatives become unique, much in the same way a painter would paint a single painting."
What inspires him: His studio at El Rincón Social, an artist-run space and gallery on Preston Street.
"When I get into the studio, I just feel the incredible energy of the building. I hear the sounds and smell of metal being welded, wood being cut by band saws, giant pieces of canvas being stretched," says Salinas. "There is something very motivating about walking into a space and seeing all this amazing art being produced in the same building."
Salians adds that he's motivated by desolate landscapes and abandoned buildings.
"It's exciting being inside buildings and places that you are definitely not supposed to be at. There is also an excitement that comes from photographing in dangerous places," he says. "Sometimes, it's on the rooftop of an abandoned downtown high rise, sometimes it's inside a massive abandoned power station in another state. There is no faking it, you have to go where the photos are."
If not this, then what: Photography and photography only.
A work by David Salinas
If not here, then where: HoustonHoustonHouston.
"I have lived in many other cities along the East Coast. Houston is incredibly diverse and cheap," says Salinas. "If I had it my way, I would have an RV that me and my wife could drive on an infinite road trip. I would most definitely need a darkroom built into the RV."
What's next: He has started to print oversized silver gelatins, something the artist has always wanted to do. "The prints that I have been producing are made from combining multiple sheets of paper to make one giant print," he says. "These prints are so big that I have to lay them on the studio floor and apply the chemistry by hand with a sponge."
Salians is also on El Rincón Social's solo exhibit docket for early 2014. "I'm taking some time to travel and shoot some locations out of state....I'm looking forward to spending the next year finally making all my ideas into real pieces. It's going to be nice to work at my own pace without deadlines."
More Creatives for 2013 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Danielle Burns, art curator Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker Amanda Stevens, scary book author Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger Ana María Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach Billy D. Washington, comedian Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer Kelly Sears, animator and film maker Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director jhon r. stronks,dance-maker Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer Jordan "Monster Mac" McMahon, artist, designer
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events