In August of 1839 a system that allowed the image in a camera obscura to be made permanent on a silver plated piece of copper was announced at the French Academy of Sciences.
Using that system allowed for the archiving of visual observation. For the first time mankind had an opportunity to permanently record what was being seen. Visual memory is notoriously inaccurate. With photography I could show you, I had proof.
In 1888, in large part due to the amazing work of George Eastman, this system was appropriated by the marketplace, that is, it became appropriate to a system of standardization. Mass production and marketing with profit as the final abiter inevitably led to a medium mired in certain aestetic conventions.Individual practicioners no longer made their own equipment or light sensitive materials. To a large extent creativity was relegated to the subject. Photographs were seen as windows though which one could glimpse a past moment and the physical realities by which this unique process was able to do that were neglected by the photographers and left to large manufacturers. All questions of form were subsumed in the quest for mimesis and then abandoned in the rush to profits.
I build my own cameras. Whether a 2 inch pinhole camera or a room sized camera obscura this allows me the freedom to examine aesthetic possibilities that were available from the beginning but were never considered.
By coating my own papers I allow the material presence of the medium to effect the outcome, recognizing that there is no path to the new. I experiment with possibilities and do my best work when I'm focused on the questions and not the answers.