Grass is like photographic paper which becomes pigmented upon exposure to light. The more intense the light exposure, the more intensely pigmented the grass becomes. By exposing plots of seedling grass to light through a custom-made negative, Surrey, England-based Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey makes the grass grow in different shades, from yellow to green creating unique portraits out of them. After a couple of weeks, when the growing process is complete faces or landscapes starts appearing in the grass.
Grass photography wasn’t invented by this duo. This technique was pioneer by photographer William Henry Fox Talbot and his photographs published in a book in 1844. Ackroyd and Harvey admit that their photography is greatly inspired by his work and ethos towards nature.
In a small room Ackroyd and Harvey experimented for the first time with imprinting an image onto a growing wall of grass. Projecting a negative image of the storeroom containing all the large neon letters for Le Fresnoy, onto a growing wall of grass, the results were astonishing. The grass revealed an extraordinary sensitivity to light and the ability to print a living photograph was first realized. Ackroyd and Harvey spent over a decade fine-tuning this process.
Unfortunately, just as miraculously as these images emerge, so do they degrade over a short period of time. Lately, the couple has been working actively with scientists at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research in Wales to create 'stay green,' a form of grass that lasts longer than the regular material and is grown from a genetically modified seed.
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