Artbound kicks off their third season with a one-hour special looking at Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio's "AgH2O" project which connects the elements mined from the Owens Valley, silver and water, to the emergence of the film industry. Silver mined from the Owens Valley was shipped to Rochester, New York, where it was used to make film. That film was then shipped back to Hollywood where films where made -- often shot on locations where the silver itself was from.
In this episode, Artbound focuses on the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio. The Optics Division is on a quest for the perfect indexical image, an image not just of the valley but made from the valley. The team has been working on all aspects of production including the camera(s), the film stock, the developers and fixatives, all sourced from the dry lake bed.
Bon and The Optics Division's tools include the "Liminal Camera," a portable camera and darkroom housed in a shipping container. The team can produce large black and white images matching the size of the container itself in a few hours.
The special explores other tools that have been developed by the Optics Division including the "Silo Camera" located in a one hundred foot silo on the edge of the Owens Dry Lake Bed and Mine Camera. The rig is being used to see the mine shaft, unused for nearly 100 years, that provided the silver for the pioneering film industry.