Alternative Processes || Negative Bleaching

Lately I’ve been thinking about how photography preserves objects in stasis, freezing them as they have been, but in the same breath, removing them from the reality that they existed in, framing them in outside the temporal state and instead becoming something different all together. Reading in Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida, he perfectly captures this conundrum;

“The Photograph then becomes a bizarre medium, a new form of hallucination: false on the level of perception, true on the level of time: a temporal hallucination, so to speak, a modest shared hallucination (on the one hand “it is not there”, on the other “but it has indeed been”.): A mad image, chafed by reality.”

In dealing with the subject of mortality, it seems that a photograph is inadequate is representing the biological trajectory that objects and people undergo, it cannot parallel it, as its inherent state is one of static representation within a moment in time. I have been frustrated with this process and as a result my current work seeks to disrupt that process of preservation. Using substances with high or low pH I’ve been immersing colour negatives in various solutions, slowly stripping away the layers of emulsion, disrupting the stasis of the photograph. The video below is a water and bleach solution at a dilution of 20:1. It seems to strip the layers of emulsion starting with the top yellow layer in about 5mins, 7mins sees leaching of the magenta layer and after about 10, the final layer of cyan seems to dissolve. I take the negatives out after about 7- 8 , just to retain legible remnants of the image.

Hope all that makes some kind of sense. X

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