She has, amongst other techniques, experimented with daguerrotypes, where the image is exposed directly onto a mirror polished surface of silver; and ambrotypes, where a negative photographic image is created on a sheet of glass using a wet plate collodion process. Campbell uses the ambrotype as the negative to handprint her current photographic works on paper.
“Crown Coach Botanical” is a series of twenty-eight photographs comprising a botanical survey of a polluted industrial Brownfield in downtown Los Angeles, previously the site of the Crown Coach School Bus manufacturing facility.
The wet-plate negatives were poured, sensitised and developed in a field darkroom in the back of a truck using nineteenth century technology. The series is part of a larger LA Botanical project, massive and perhaps unachievable in its full potential scope, to document each plant that grows in Los Angeles for which there is a documented use – be it food, medicine, weapon, abortive, analgesic, fuel, stimulant, building material, deadly toxin or mind altering entheogen.
LA Botanical operates simultaneously as map, inventory, and survival guide to the city of Los Angeles. It has the potential to reveal who lives there, from where they originate, what they value, how they eat, worship, heal, harm, travel, clothe themselves, seek insight or achieve oblivion. “Through this project I have attempted to reconcile my own rural background with my life in Los Angeles, one of the most sprawling and unsustainable metropolises on earth”.
Joyce Campbell is based in Los Angeles, California and Auckland, New Zealand and is a lecturer at the University of Auckland Elam School of Fine Arts. Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout New Zealand and Internationally, including the Incheon international Women’s Biennalle, Incheon, Korea. In 2006 she was awarded the Antarctic Fellowship with this work being included in an exhibition Antarctica, with Anne Noble and Connie Samaras at Pitzer College, Claremont CA, USA.