Capturing a Portrait of Division in Invisible Light

For his latest project, Markus Hofstaetter makes a clever and fitting response to the division plaguing the world amid the pandemic.

When it comes to making responses to the biggest social issues, we can trust Austrian wet plate artist Markus Hofstaetter to be quick and creative about it. Not so long ago, we placed the spotlight on his personal wet plate photography projects and efforts for the United Art Gallery, both done in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In his latest project, he makes a response to the divide that recently surfaced as a result of compounding factors like the ongoing pandemic, political and social climate, and racism. If you’ve been thinking of making your own photography project sparked by your own insights or feelings towards the world’s current issues, this project will definitely bring you some inspiration.

For a wet plate portrait simply titled Division, Markus had a bright idea: to create a visual representation of the division he sees plaguing the world alongside the pandemic. To achieve this, he used different cameras and films to capture the unique effects of the invisible UV and infrared light. Watch the interesting and intricate process in his video below.

Apart from the UV-sensitive wet collodion process, he also used Rollei Ortho 25 film (also UV-sensitive), Rollei Infrared 400 film, and a modified Pentax K modified to shoot infrared images. Markus was able to produce results that emphasize specific parts of the images. Apart from being beautiful executions of his idea, they also make perfect examples of the creative possibilities that UV-sensitive and infrared photography open up for photographers like Markus.

Digital Color
Left: Rollei Ortho 25
Right: Rollei Infrared 400
Left: Wet Collodion
Right: Digital Infrared

Markus explains his idea in a blog post:

“On the left side the blindfold is blocking the sight – people can not see clearly, the faded tattoos are standing for a faded reality and the fist shows anger and caginess.

“Where on the right side you see eyes that see through the blindfold, high contrast tattoos, and an open hand that is ready to help and hug.”

Want to see more projects like this? Make sure to visit Markus Hofstaetter’s blog and follow him on Instagram (@mhaustria) to keep tabs on his work.

Joy Celine Asto
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Joy is a writer, film photographer, and part-time traveler from Manila, Philippines. She finds bliss in exploring whatever surrounds her and documenting it in photos and stories. She runs on caffeine, lives on books, savors good music, and thrives in everything creative.

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