The electromagnetogram technique began as a collaboration between artists Liz Liguori and Jessie Mann for the Mountain Lake Workshop in response to the hyperrealism of digital photography. Just as photography once took over from painting the responsibility of accurately reflecting the world, allowing painting to expand into impressionism and abstraction, darkroom photography is now also free to explore the line, texture, and color of the medium without responsibility to representation.
Clement Greenburg outlines the hallmarks of abstract expressionism as “large and conspicuous rhythms, broken color, uneven saturations, exhibited finger marks, masses that blot and fuse.” Electromagnetograms are an attempt to recreate these elements but with photographic processes rather than paint. They were particularly inspired by Ralph Eugene Meatyard: Abstractions 1957-1972–images that rebirthed photography as an abstract medium. These new works are a continued exploration of the essence of the photographic medium–isolating light, surface, saturation, and rhythm in the manner of abstract expressionism. By using photo chemicals and the refracted beam of a laser, each print records an ephemeral moment of light moving through space.