The Erasure – Experiment 1
“There is something strangely cathartic about drowning a photo in red wine.” – Me (2017)
My bulk order of photographs has arrived. All versions of the same photo, which over the course of this project will be mutilated, mauled, drowned and otherwise abused as a means of illustrating a tangible reflection of erased personal connections to landscapes, memories and material objects.
This first experiment is done using what I found lying around in my kitchen. Eventually I’ll progress to using harsher chemicals and substances, but as a control I wanted to see how the photographs reacted to everyday liquids. I have also placed a photograph in my South facing window to see how much of an effect sunlight and fading has on it.
Annoyingly the photos didn’t fit into my scientific containers (Chinese takeout tubs) and had to have their edges trimmed and rounded.
Anyone that has ever received a gift from me will know that I save up all of the bottles of wine I’m given for Christmas and re-distribute them as gifts to other people throughout the year. As there are no upcoming birthdays, celebrations or whatever, I thought I might as well put the nasty red wine to good use. Pouring red wine over the photograph was oddly cathartic. I’m not a wine drinker/enjoyer, so this is probably the most fun I have ever had with wine, which says more about me and my idea of a good time than it should. But red wine is one of those shady bastards that you’re never meant to spill on anything because YOU WILL NEVER GET IT OUT! So intentionally pouring it over something with the purpose of destroying said thing was so freeing. I don’t think white wine would have had the same effect.
The boiling water was the only liquid to have an immediate effect on the photo. It immediately became flaccid and lost paper quality. In the long term, I think this will most likely change the least.
Bison grass vodka
The awful vodka someone gave me as a 21st birthday present finally has a use, almost 3 years later. This experiment essentially became a way to get rid of the unwanted alcohol that has been sitting at the back of my kitchen cupboards. Apparently mixes well with apple juice (the bottle lies about this, it tastes bloody awful and has grass floating in it.)
The solutions will now sit and wallow until something happens. Afterwards they will be air dried, and potentially sculpted into something, depending how they look. There are 5 months until they’re due to be submitted so they have plenty of time to form cultures or dissolve or sit there and not do anything. (Yes this was written in March but scheduled to be posted in July because I’m predicting that I will have no free time during the summer). According to the North-East Document Conservation Centre:
‘Photographs in water will quickly deteriorate: images can separate from mounts, emulsions can dissolve or stick together, and staining can occur. Mold can grow within 48 hours at 60% relative humidity and 70°F, and it often causes permanent staining and other damage to photographs.‘ [https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/3.-emergency-management/3.7-emergency-salvage-of-wet-photographs Last Accessed 10th March 2017]
So hopefully something should happen if they are left submerged for long enough. There are 5 months until they’re due to be submitted so they have plenty of time to form cultures or dissolve or sit there and not do anything. (Yes this was written in March but scheduled to be posted in July because I’m predicting that I will have no free time during the summer).
Also a little shout out to the really cool way the water one reflects back onto itself. May have to experiment with projecting into water.
Coming up next time… Vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Plus maybe a little dabbling with bathroom cleaner and bleach. Perhaps adding salt to the water solution to see if this has any effect.
Once I have sourced better containers and better chemicals to play around with this should get more exciting. Going back to Jennifer Bouchard’s work from the last post, I may also begin to play around with physically manipulating the photographs using temperature – sticking them in the microwave, oven, freezer etc.