Excerpt from catalogue essay by Sage Lewis for False Documents & Other Illusions at the Portland Museum of Art
Molly Springfield uses the content of her appropriated documents strategically. Using a traditional medium of graphite on paper, she connects her work as a contemporary artist to ideas about art and perception discussed in these texts. Photography's impact on documenting the world, or the notion of originality amongst such prevalent reproductive methods as printers and copy machines, are concepts richly explored in her drawings.
In Melancholy Results, Springfield has made a drawing of a photocopy of a drawing by the British inventor William Henry Fox Talbot. In 1833, Talbot used a camera lucida device to project the contours of a landscape onto paper, tracing what he saw. The discrepancy between Talbot's drawing and the clarity of the photographic projection was a great disappointment to him and compelled him to search for a way to capture the photographic image. He eventually developed an early technique of photography, the calotype process, and is credited with the invention of the photographic negative. The story of Talbot's frustration with his drawing is now a pivotal moment in the history of photography. Springfield's replication of Talbot's image, many times removed from the original, furthers the story. With her labor intensive hand-drawn method, she surely would have achieved more than "melancholy results" had it been her hand working the camera lucida that day in 1833.