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Joyce Campbell, New Zealand
LSA (Lysergic Acid Amide) from Morning Glory, 2006
Photographic materials on Glass
11 1/2 in. x 11 1/2 in. (29.21 cm x 29.21 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Technique: Ambrotype
Credit Line: Purchase by the Jean and Arthur Ames Fund and the Hewett Mellon Presidential Dis
Accession Number: 2007.4.3

Photography’s history is full of new inventions, which have their moment before being supplanted by other innovations. By the late 1850s, the ambrotype overtook the daguerreotype, whose dark imagery and metallic surface made it difficult to see. Within a decade, however, the ambrotype gave way to the tintype. In her 2006 series called LA Botanicals, contemporary artist Joyce Campbell returns to the ambrotype to create ghostly images of plants that have been part of the Los Angeles habitat for at least 150 years. In this work, Campbell employed the traditional ambrotype process: covering a sheet of clean glass with a thin layer of collodion, dipping the glass in a silver nitrate solution, and then exposing, developing and fixing the plate. The end product is a negative, which when seen against a black background, reveals a positive image. Campbell’s ambrotypes are of plants, both common and uncommon, that have other, lesser- known medicinal and psychedelic properties. The title LSA (Lysergic acid amine from Morning Glory) refers to the psychedelic alkaloids ergonovie and ergine (LSA), found in the morning glory’s seeds. When taken in a large enough dose, these seeds can produce some of the effects of LSD (lysergic acid kethelamide), including a strange sense of time and spiritual transport. Aztec priests used the plant for hallucinogenic experience, and, in China, the morning glory seeds were appreciated for their laxative effect. Campbell’s morning glory suggests that the backyard plant may not be as banal as it seems. Campbell’s ambrotype garden is full of haunting images reminding us that the decision to use plants for poisoning or healing rests with humans. Mary Davis MacNaughton Associate Professor of Art History

"L.A. Botanical, exhibited in 2006 at the Starkwhite Gallery in Auckland and, in 2007, at the G727 Gallery in Los Angeles, represents the beginning of an ongoing project to document the plant species growing in Los Angeles for which there is a documented use, including “food, medicine, weapon, abortive, analgesic, fuel, stimulant, building material, deadly toxin or mind-altering entheogen.” In this manner, Campbell attempts to show the sustaining plant life growing in the city famed for its concrete highways, car culture and ultimately unsustainable way of life.

[For L.A. Botanical], Campbell used anachronistic photographic techniques, which date back to the beginnings of photography in the 19th and early 20th century. In such photographs as Ephedrine and LSA (Lysergic Acid Amide), Campbell used the ambrotype process developed in the 1850s, which creates a positive photographic image on a sheet of glass using the wet plate collodion process. The artist exposes the wet glass plate to light and, once developed and fixed, the negative image appears to be positive when placed against a black background. Due to lower costs, this process replaced the daguerreotype and was widely used for portraits. In this manner, each photograph in L.A. Botanical becomes a portrait of the plant it delicately portrays."


Written by Megan Downing (SC '08), 2007-08 Academic Year Wilson Intern.

Object Description
Ololiuqui, psychedelic entheogen. Home to the Aztec sun gods. Glass plate ambrotype.

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