Arizona-based photographer David Emitt Adams uses a unique, 19th-century process to create detailed photographs on the bottom of tin cans. The project, entitled Conversations with History, compares the past and present of photography as it relates to the desert landscapes of the American West. Adams collects discarded cans, some dating back to the 1970s, that have been scattered across the desert. The objects, rusty and corroded with the evidence of light and time, serve as a relic of our culture and a significant tie to our past.
He then creates images on their surface with an old fashioned photographic technique, called wet-plate collodion. The labor-intensive process produces a negative image on the surface of the metal. The artist says, “The result is an object that has history as an artifact and an image that ties it to its location. These cans are the relics of the advancement of our culture, and become sculptural support to what they have witnessed.”