Fumeurs noirs, 2010
Negative on gelatinized silver paper turned to gold
20 x 25 cm, framed 53 x 62,5 x 3 cm
In the frigid depths far beneath the ocean surface, at the mid-oceanic ridges, molten rock bubbles up from the earth’s mantle to form new crust on the sea floor. There, water percolates down through fissures in the rock, becoming heated and infused with dissolved metals, before it gushes back up. Surging clouds of iron sulfide-rich water called ‘black smokers’ erupt out of chimneys formed from previously deposited mineral.
Although scientists had predicted hydrothermal vents in the XIX century, they were only discovered in 1977 -along with the surrounding ecosystemes that thrive without sunlight. Reusing photographs of black smokers taken on pioneering oceanographic missions to depths of 10.000 feet below sea level, Allouche illuminates these nearly invisible subjects in his 2010 series ‘Les Fumeurs Noirs’. Yet, the images, printed as negatives on gelatin silver paper toned with gold to increase the contrast, simultaneously return the deep sea structures to their natural obscurity.