With a passion for photography that started when he was 15, Michal Macků studied in Brno and Prague before working at the Sigma Olomouc Research Centre and teaching at the Pedagogical Faculty of Palacky University, Olomouc. Since 1992, he has worked as a freelance artist, exhibiting in the US and throughout Europe. In 1989, he created his own photographic technique, ‘Gellage’ — the ligature of collage and gelatine. The technique consists of transferring the exposed and fixed photographic emulsion from its original base on paper. This transparent and plastic gelatine substance makes it possible to reshape and reform the original images. Created on photographic quality paper, each Gellage is a highly durable print eminently suited for collecting and exhibiting. Michal explains, ‘I use the nude human body (mostly my own) in my pictures. Through the photographic process [of Gellage], this concrete human body is compelled to meet with abstract surroundings and distortions. This connection is most exciting for me and helps me to find new levels of humanness in the resulting work.’
The laborious technology involved in Gellage, which often includes the use of more than one negative per image, makes it impossible to produce absolutely identical prints. Therefore, each Gellage is an original work of art, although Michal makes at least 12 signed and numbered prints of each image.
Michal continues to use and develop this technology in his still-photo art. With the cooperation of Czech Television Brno, he has made an animated Gellage film, called Process. Since 2000, Michal has used other historical photographic techniques in combination with the Gellage technique. After experimenting with heliogravure, platinum and kallitype, he mastered the technique of carbon printing. ‘I am always seeking new means of expression’, say Michal. ‘In its versatility and range of possibilities, carbon is a superb process. It is capable of presenting images with a wide range of image characteristics, of virtually any colour or tone, and on a wide variety of surfaces.
Michal’s new work combines his gellage technique, historic photographic processes and state-of-the-art technology to create 3D glass photographs-objects.