During confinement I had to seek the erotic somewhere else. What had been subversive was now illegal, dangerous. There was no safe sex version of shooting erotic photography during lockdown, and the prospect of shooting myself or my partner, after mutual interactive overdose, became an uninspiring prospect. It was my first year in Paris - the city of sensual indulgence was a town of masked ghosts and sanitizer.
So for 7 months, my Paris was supermarket isles and pet stores. What made me feel the naughtiest was the candy. Entire isles of it. A fifth of the “express” super markets in the 10th arrondissement were dedicated to plastic packs of corn syrup dressed up into different shapes and symbols, promising indulgent satisfaction with every bag of gelatin. During the 6pm-curfew days, markets were packed rushing to close on time. The lines in the markets inevitably wound through the candy isle, torturing the onlookers. It’s all any of us did outside: get groceries and avoid eating together and too many sweets.
The 1km radius restriction on movements led to another challenge - how to create an “essential” need to bike beyond the borders. Pets! The pet store was beyond this radius, and so, like a daily fugitive, I drafted a few required statements to leave my house during lockdown—the attestations—that needed to include my address, where I was going, the time I left the house and when I would be back. Since we were only permitted an hour outside a day, I would make sure to write 3 different ones for a 3 hour trip, with each paper neatly tucked into different pockets with different start times.
I’m not a cat or dog person, two little kids satisfy my need to care for mammals. After considering an iguana (too much room required), a chameleon (too anxious looking), and a turtle (too boring), I settled on a series of beetles and praying mantises. By the end of 2020, we had 10 different mantis species, many of which needed to be fed living flies by hand during infancy. I settled into the months of confinement, with an endless supply of subject matter: quasi-domesticated insects and the available remnants of French “cuisine," the Haribo candies.
Information Relevant to the 2021 Collection
The final printed sculptural form of the photographs rebel against the roots of their creation: during the dark Paris winter of Covid-induced confinement and nightly curfew. The images demanded to break free, to be unconfined. The 2021 collection is printed large, meant only to be displayed in public spaces, and grandiose private dwellings. Enjoyed at superhuman scale, the surreal nature of the microscopic details reveal their secrets and surprises calling forth a remembrance of indulgence beyond the gastronomic.
From images to digital photographs
Each millimeter of the subjects were captured at intense care and magnification. The time intensive process represented days of work for the studio, ideal for the confinement purgatory. I designed and built specialized mechanical rigs so that each millimeter could be a composite sourced from hundreds of ultra high-resolution frames. Hyperrealism became my way to indulge our eyes starved by monotony.
From (digital) photograph to light sculpture
But the creation process was not complete. In a time when all pleasures had been digital the images could only thrive in the physical world. The digital had lost its sexiness; I had not. Standard printing techniques further flattened the work. To complete my vision I added a physical dimension, light design. We created light palettes specific to each image that complete the final image. Each final work is thus its own photographic light sculpture.
Additional Technical Information
Merritt has been on the forefront of digital art photography for over two decades. In this time she has sought ways of preserving the authenticity and genuinity of art pieces produced fully in digital without succumbing to the pitfalls of reproducability--after all every digital print is reproducible, but the first and real print's authenticity can remain uncompromised.
With ArtCoin (R) Merritt is able to secure the essential value of digital art. ArtCoin is a cryptographic encryption unique to an art piece. With every limited reproduction the encryption guarantees transparency of ownership. Captured both in crypto (digital) form and a physical RF signature on the back of each print, ArtCoin is a time-proof security for digital artwork. The prints also include a tendered certificate of ownership. ArtCoin also enables the art collectors to prove genuine ownership and enable transfer without question of verifiability.