“Salt Lattice” is the most innovative and experimental work in the exhibition. Most of the collaborations begin with Cherney’s photographic excerpts of physical scenery, printed on xuan paper, to which Chang adds his distinctive brushwork. “Salt Lattice” has its genesis in a more unexpected source—the salt crystal.
The "salt print" was one of the earliest processes for producing positive photographic images on standard drawing paper. The first step was wetting a sheet of paper with a salt solution to make it light-sensitive. In homage to this process, Michael Cherney photographed salt crystals dissolving under a microscope then enlarged selected image details. When printed, the images' fractal qualities are enhanced, taking on the appearance of rocks, flowers, or other natural forms. By arranging the details into the shape of a lattice for printing, Cherney created a “canvas” of random yet orderly configurations that Arnold Chang could attempt to weave into a coherent composition.
Rising to the challenge, Chang extended the salt metaphor by developing a technique that employed salt as a painting medium. He dampened the blank areas of paper between the photographic images and sprinkled crystals of Himalayan black (and occasionally pink) salt onto the wet paper. Chang used a brush to drag the crystals across the surface, leaving traces of color as the water evaporated. The salt acted as a resistant substance that created unusual patterns when mixed with the wet ink. After the paper dried, Chang dusted off the crystals and enhanced the image with additional brushwork. The resulting composition is abstract and entirely contemporary yet resonant with echoes of classical Chinese landscape imagery.