Chemically-Induced Psychologies Expressed in Chemically-Produced Frames

Arnau Blanch is the published photographer whose recent photo series Twilight Zone reaches towards the altered emotional states brought about by narcotic substances and renders them as static visuals. Through a complex process of chemical craftsmanship executed using a raft of tools and materials, the vibrant splashes and flows of his unique method take on alternately astral and geological figures.


The result is appropriately captivating and disorienting for a series that aims to communicate Arnau’s subjective psychological experience, substituting Euclidean geometry and recognisable patterns for a free-form pattern of chemically produced impressions. Its acid-bright colours bring the viewer to the narcotic experience elliptically, abstractly, without explicit description.

We spoke to Arnau to hear his thoughts on these images and the story behind them.

The Plus: What inspired the project?
Arnau Blanch:
In the search to bring my sensory experience into a tangible and visible world, I made a series of large format pieces where the materials, tones, and forms of the photographic medium are fully in the limelight. This project explores the non-figurative expression of the form and materials of the photographic image, and of the imagination, playing between the limits of what is pictorial and what is photographic.


TP: What is the ‘Twilight Zone’ in terms of this narcotics-inspired series?
Opium is not a hallucinogenic drug; its effects are just about a deep relaxation, putting you between two worlds. For me this Twilight Zone was a moment in which you stay between sleep and wakefulness, a time during which I could build my own dreams, knowing that I was dreaming.

TP: Could you take us through the process of producing one of your works?
Ever since I started in photography I have worked with scanners. I have always enjoyed the idea of seeing how the light passes through materials, as it does on a photographic film. In the end, the technique I have used is the result of many years of experimentation with this idea. On this particular project I wanted to observe what happened when building negatives from scratch, by using glass plates or plastic sheets as a base, overlapping over the emulsion, diffracting visible light beams in different ranges of tones.


TP: What materials did you use?
The combination of things I have used to create these images are: opium, scanner, camera, glass plates, plastic sheets, colour acetates, liquid aniline, aniline powder, watercolour aquarelle, soap, bleach, alcohol, blowtorch, brushes, paint roller, tape, sprayers, paint spatulas, markers, lacquer, freezer sprays, toothbrush, X-ACTO knife, lighter, matches, pipette, hair dryer, and time.

TP: Could you talk to us about the diversity of the images?
I like working under the idea of error. After creating more than 1000 images, my experience gave me more tools in order to predict what was going to be the result of each approach I applied to the materials, but anyway the unpredictable, the error, and the unknown of the final result was part of the fun of the whole experience.

TP: Is there an approach beyond the production process that unites these images?
My projects are about trying to understand who I am. The focus is on myself. In order to understand myself I can start to accurately document others, and I guess the biggest change is that I’m talking from a very personal point of view, embracing absolute subjectivity as a starting point. So, Twilight Zone is an absolute subjective personal experience.