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November 11th, 2016

A Modern Alchemist by Christopher Paul Brown

Posted by liveBooks

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Christopher Paul Brown is an abstract photographer that has dedicated his time to capturing fascinating artwork. His work has appeared in numerous shows as well as having a one-man show in 1985. To see more of his work, visit his website:

In January of 1978 I used student loan proceeds to purchase a Contax RTS camera with a Zeiss lens. I was attending film school, but my intentions there were to work commercially and pay my bills. I needed a strictly artistic outlet and photography suited me best.


The reception to my marketing was strong. I was in numerous juried shows and publications. The Standard Oil Company bought one of my photographs for their collection and I had my first solo show by 1985. Shortly thereafter, for a host of reasons, I let go of the marketing side of photography. I continued to shoot and eventually replaced my 35mm Contax with a Mamiya medium format camera, began shooting in color, and by 2013 moved into digital photography. It was my excitement with the digital arena that helped me decide to market my photography once again in 2013. Shortly afterwards, I discovered liveBooks, which perfectly suited my web presence.


I consider myself an alchemist. The early alchemists focused primarily on matter. They were the precursors of today’s chemists and their belief was that hidden qualities lay within mundane matter. Unlike today’s chemists, they saw their own personal power as affecting the outcome of their alchemical investigations. In the 20th century, the surrealists and psychotherapists such as Carl Jung and Otto Rank took alchemy to a new level and applied to art and people what the older alchemists had applied to mundane matter. In my own view, consciousness is something shared not only among plants and animals, but also among ordinary items such as grains of sand, cars, and tables. Consciousness is all there is, but our world is wrapped up in a great masquerade.

With my photography, I experience myself as less of a creator of images than a conductor of energies beyond myself. Just as a lens conducts light and a wire conducts electricity, I invite and allow energies beyond my conscious understanding to flow through and co-create these images. My job is to stand astride a polarity: on the one hand I am open, accepting the serendipity of the unexpected, of whatever appears that is beyond the surface of things, but at the same time I am focused on creating a strong image that reveals a depth that is beyond words. With these two intentions, polar opposites though they are, powerful energies are often released. When I am lucky, they manifest images that offer depth and richness.

My work is the opposite of a mental construct. I don’t begin with a series in mind of a title for a photograph. Rather, the series or title reveals itself afterwards. Each image, and series of images, has a consciousness of its own, related to my consciousness, yet also independent of me. In many ways, I am like a paleontologist who unearths pre-existing bones from the earth. In my case, the earth is a metaphor for the unconscious and the unexplained.


I believe these images tell non-linear stories. They seem to be both subterranean and unconscious. I think of them as the wordless shards of dreams that have survived awakening.

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