Did you ever watch Six Feet Under? Do you remember that part where the mom accidentally drops ecstasy and trips enthusiastically through a now enchanted woodland? Stepping into the White Rabbit from a spring Iowa downpour, that’s all I can think of upon discovering (former LV photo editor) Dawn Frary’s Vibration Frequencies of the Spirit World. Before reaching the entrance, I only caught a glimpse of tapestries hanging in the windows through the rainfall, but once inside they were revealed in a cloudy backlit mirror image, overhung with spindly purple-tinted air plants. Muted into the color of the drizzled concrete behind, deer graze in a lavender field swirled into chartreuse. To the left of the entrance, photos line the walls in a haze of the cool side of the color wheel. Vagaries of pink, green, blue, violet and black hold images of woodland places that are familiar, but alienated in their color distortion. Through an amethyst lens, we see a rainforest, twilit under a different sun, lily pads colored like thunderclouds.
These images are shot in LomoChrome XR purple, a film for analog cameras which, through a chemical process, shifts colors across the spectrum. This, paired with a green treatment which accentuates the violet, results in a literal purple haze across all tones when developed, with only the color red remaining unaltered.
Several images stand out: pink horizoned, a dusk dream of New Mexico on Neptune; vultures irradiated into a bluebird sky, a doe illumined by a violaceous alien tractor beam; sheep in a hazy dreamt snapshot, on a field perhaps set in England.
These animals and visions seem to stand at the edge of a wood familiar to the Iowa City native, yet transported ever so slightly across dimensions to another sunset, a turquoise and pink shell, neon brilliant. There is Hickory Hill Park’s open field in purplescape, a ubiquitous tree, a little orange sapling—the only warm tone of its kind in the entire exhibit—accentuated by a brilliant blue in the high right corner: the sky, the cosmos.
Everything is slightly out of focus, blurry in a way that makes the viewer feel it is being seen through a torrential downpour, a mist. In this way, which could be seen as a drawback to the show, many of the images blur together in similarity. A few lack the compositional attention given to the stronger pieces, and the strange and elegant color shifts seem to beg a further post-production.
Frary, who has worked as a wildlife rehabilitator and Reiki Master in addition to photographer, wishes to “reveal the magic of the natural world” and remind us of the energies that undermine the nominal differences between us. Using the unreality of the LomoChrome film, she pulls us into a world that seems infrared in violet, revealing a force, like heat, which is invisible yet undeniably vital to life.
Vibrational Frequencies of the Spirit World: Photographs by Dawn Frary is on exhibit at White Rabbit until May 31.