What is this? A close-up of burnt metal? A landscape painting of a fiery sky? Or a photograph of a chemical spill?

The answer is curious. Since about 1983 I’ve been collecting discarded prints from darkroom bins. Frustrated students throw a developing print straight into the rubbish, without fixing or washing it. It sits there dripping in developer and gradually oxidizes – the silver reacts with the air and tarnishes, as silverware does. I have a couple of boxes of them, collected when particularly interesting ones appear. This is something unique to the photo-chemical photography, impossible with digital technology.


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