A match for twenty blue devils

In collaboration with Fenia Kotsopoulou

"A cup of coffee - real coffee - home-browned, home ground, home made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfectly sweet, neither lumpy nor frothing on the Java: such a cup of coffee is a match for twenty blue devils and will exorcise them all."

Henry Ward Beecher

Created in response to The Coffee Project's 2018 open-call, "A match for twenty blue devils" reaches back to Beecher's last days, reflecting contemporary photographic practice and the slightly hazy, sepia tonality of the technology available at the time : he died between George Eastman starting manufacturing paper-based film in 1885, and introducing celluloid-based film in 1889.

Shot on hand-made 35mm paper-negatives, using DIY coffee-based darkroom chemistry and cobbled-together equipment; we reach-out toward Beecher's austere Calvinism and simultaneously his sense of fun, to reappropriate his abolitionist views to suggest that in this modern-age we are all slaves, of a kind : to the machine, to commerce, to industry, to mental-health even, and in terms of those "blue devils" : slaves to coffee - whilst blissfully aware of just how sensuous and exhilarating our cup of "daily grind" can be.

The beans in the images are those used to develop the images - carefully ground releasing rugged aromas, their resultant brew playfully mixed with similarly basic household fayre to bring to life the alchemy of our all-analog scratch darkroom process.

A short video revealing how we made the photos

Russian camera and Chinese lens rescued from the bin ... plus the star of the show : coffee

our basic set

digital test-shots used to help us figure-out exposure times for the low-ISO paper negatives

making coffee and mixing-up the 'caffenol-C' developer

we made quite a few shots over the course of two days

the developed handmade paper-negatives

the completed diptych : 10x8" x2 framed-up to 18.5" x 25" with crimson mount

© 2018 Daz Disley & Fenia Kotsopoulou