The Image of All Matter: Alchemical Methodology in the Photograms of Danielle Goshay

20 June 2024

By Darian Razdar

It’s the body who has moved

the direction of light to wave

a chemistry of fog lingers

lost among clouds

the way a pulse echoes

a pulse echoes 

a pulse echoes onto the page

I find:

a place to react

a primary desire

a name that melts away

I — what’s left?

Vague terrain on which waves of mist and eyes collect

as if object did not but was


long for form, an approach

away, all notions slip

Left for I, blood pools 

betrayed by light

carved into night’s eaves


wake between the distance

image and dream

Promised — the only participle 

scattered on the floor

In the dark, red light

kept but not keeping — I know you

Can you discern thought’s shadow sinking into the night?

The moon — how it waves 

or was said to have waved

measuring the magnitude of the seas

coursing through our veins


Everywhere inside turns out 

when foam unbreaks 

drifting away from:

the eternal thing that makes

that does not unless it were


To go aways 

off shore, yet always within your reach

To go to bed with the stars

each beat, each rain

of photons

you choose one and enter

to catch a feeling


Say it now together:

I, You, Here

Me, You, And

Mine, Yours, Now

A legacy of two seconds

yet so full

and marked for life

It’s the rain that finds and cracks

fissures the exhaust of hand for doing

more than hand should ever do

Collecting every drop on the page

amending each molecule

making holes

scratching the surface

So far into an abyss, yet real force lasts 

as atom memory

You’ve given me a window into sky, yet still I return to verse

In the beginning: clouds of dust

and gravity transformed 

flashes of light

illuminated dark clouds

at the edge of the storm

we couldn’t see a thing

In its eye

what lies there, save for rods and cones and forgotten things?

Of course, image is an urge

preceding dust

evading as leaks, a capture

an echo, you recall the face pressed in pulp

Gelatin skeletons and silver remains

gaseous pools and bloody mud

ooze and drift

With effort exposed as waves

buried into the page beneath an early urge to remain

if not only to leave a trace


What do you see when waking?

River currents fading

memory floating into twilight

the one thing we made together

and called ours

Light splashes and leaves its mark

Memory lingers — remembering disrupts

Beauty for sight, but not to see

Present cracks into exalted strokes

as for the heavy dawn light, I accept anything

shatters under pressure:

as all matter does and did and will do

Heat etches stars into the sky as dust

strikes stone for wind

We believe in

generative entropy and ribbons of shadow

strung high 

For us to believe everything 

falls apart 

is to say 

Look how lovely the days are as they lay smoldered

dead and dying!

Day is hot to touch

feverish day, the sinking stars

smell of chemistry wafts

like invisible electric current

Who could carve such a hole

to sink into and float away

without a necessary edge?

When did I leave the place at which you had already arrived?

Rays of light beam through smoke

dust billows

come to harvest our air

Breath heavy, respiration hot 

carving out a life high 

between the cracks

Unity of opposites:

the subtle flesh of encounter

fertile in the foggy water

  describes the sun as you accept its shadow

We enter a vortex of ashes

light leaks into 

no colour spills out

only evading — a momentary memory

To accept the shadow, you defy reason

excepting divine 

dis – associations

re – figuring expectations

I look down to describe the Moon 

You use a mirror to pull me in

to fissure my own image 

The sun’s shadow I see alone 

No image ever really was


Were those even stars in our sky?

There, a message

cast above the clouds

until a trace emerged

the mark was left

There, a seed of coalition —

egg and child of the egg

spirit and matter of the spirit

 — born to reflect, never withholding

Together we name the shadow

— solaris lunaris infantis unum — 

and we become nothing without it

An egg drops from the sky

you find it cracked

the child is only a consequence

matter doubles

this remains

You go out and propose to the melting, molten terrain, 


is the one way to desire!

To the knot inside, I attend

and offer my unfettered farewell

To desire, we go quickly and without word

what a kindness to meet the shadow and melt away

 Fractures indicate a single body

— corpus rebis —

pierced but never penetrated

Let’s feign to speak each other

syllables on copper tongues

reference the constraint —

child and its consequence

— and fall into another orbit

a womb with sky view and word

tied to a single body 

emerging from the ground


The fluid


seeming of

worlds at scale 

at each level bonds join and fall

each movement with which I can speak a name

save my breath for distance

Does it matter if I say this or refuse?

 Under the weight of the sky

we’re pulled by the same force — so we loosen

so we try

There is no 

re – lenting

re – telling fails under pressure

dis – solves each part 

re – mains



islands float

off course 

We learn how to see

Our interest is depth

Factors of illusion and creation deceive

Our deception is wide

Any distance goes

as scenes smolder 

as a form of waiting:



texture of melting noise

burst of light

on black cloud

Our interest is depth

so we dive

in the distance between surface

and core

we’re pulled back

pulled into

pulled over

pulled down

pulled under

dreaming the ways 

slipping into and out

the only pronoun for us

we are overcome




in the way things undo

Science of the spirit

everything before

the rough depth




Take my dark

assemble it

let it crash 

under the weight of light if it must


I will succumb 

I will gladly shatter 

myself into the image of all matter

The images featured in this text are the creations of photographer Danielle Goshay. Experimenting with material and process, Goshay applies fire, smoke, granules, resists, and liquids of various viscosities to photo paper in a darkroom environment. Goshay’s photograms, as a practice of camera-less photography, achieve infinite levels of abstraction that at once mesmerize and confound. The artist’s fascination with alchemy lives through this image-making process, which is as intensely methodical as it is aleatory and spiritual. By writing poetry alongside Goshay’s evolving body of work, I respond to these photograms in their native language—abstraction, imagism, and symbology.

Images: Photograms by Danielle Goshay, 2022-2023. All photos courtesy of the artist.