In an era when paintings are routinely photographed for their consumption on Instagram, online viewing rooms, and websites, Rooney posits, “What if instead of being photographed, a painting could make its own photograph?”
This question forms the core of Rooney’s newest work and is explored through her experimental manipulation of Bluescreen, a free-standing painting at the show’s center. As light passes through Bluescreen’s square cut-outs, the painting casts a gridded shadow on nearby surfaces. Rooney captures this shadow using the camera-less photographic technique of cyanotype, a kind of analogue photography first developed in the 1800s. To create her prints, Rooney first photosensitizes large sheets of fabric using iron salts, and then lays these sheets down in Bluescreen’s shadow. Where the sun’s UV rays hit the fabric, it turns a deep blue; where the fabric is cast in shadow, it remains white. Physical variables such as the angle of Bluescreen’s shadow, wrinkles in the fabric, and the intensity of light cause variations in the photographic print—skewing, blurring, and tinting the otherwise perpendicular blue grid.