Unusual request - making prints unarchival

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by wfarer, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. wfarer

    wfarer Member

    Messages:
    2
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2012
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hi all,

    This is a bit of an unusual request/question as most photographers are concerned about archival rather than impermanence.

    I'm planning a conceptual installation piece and my idea is for one wall of b&w photographs to deteriorate during the installation period of 4-6 weeks to simulate fading of memories.

    I've looked through my books and done some internet searches - there's a lot on what to do to make prints archival but nothing on what not to do :smile: . Does anyone know of any chemicals / processes that I can utilize to make the prints "unarchival" so that they will visibly change over 4-6 weeks?

    Much appreciated for any suggestions.

    - Stephen
     
  2. wildbill

    wildbill Member

    Messages:
    2,848
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    most prints nowdays are labelled "archival something or other" just label them "unarchival":smile:

    fixer is the key, or lack of good fixer, not enough time in the fixer. good luck on the timing
     
  3. afrank

    afrank Member

    Messages:
    125
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Do not fix them, and depending on the light conditions perhaps residues could darken it instead of making it fade....
     
  4. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,265
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Illuminate them with UV at night, when people are not looking.
     
  5. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

    Messages:
    361
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    Location:
    Texas
    Shooter:
    Med. Format Pan
    or very lightly fix then hang under UV light.
     
  6. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,241
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    How about under fix and under wash? I am not sure if you can control how fast they decay though....
     
  7. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

    Messages:
    6,739
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Too bad that POP isn't available any more
     
  8. kevs

    kevs Member

    Messages:
    544
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Yes that is what would happen; the undeveloped silver would slowly darken, especially under UV to green light. you could also fix them but don't rinse, which would give you a brown stain as the silver slowly converts to silver sulphide. If you have a brightly-lit space, you could print with a non-analogue ink-squirter using cheap dye-based inks which quickly fade in bright light; done this way the colour balance would alter as the inks degrade at different rates. But you didn't hear that from me on APUG... :D

    Cheers,
    kevs
     
  9. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

    Messages:
    1,203
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    Location:
    Indiana
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sponge a weak C6N6FeK3 solution over the prints after you hang the exhibit, and stand back and enjoy.

    (Test and find the right ratio/effect first)

    As others have said UV light and inadequate fixing help.

    I have a drawer full of unfixed stabilization processed prints that are still good, but set them out on a desk for a week and watch them go to brown. I am sure you can find some of this paper (I used to use a lot of it) and mixing the chemistry if you can't find any would be easy.
    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/g12/g12.pdf
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 4, 2012
  10. tomfoo13ry

    tomfoo13ry Member

    Messages:
    14
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Potassium Ferricyanide and a short wash maybe?
     
  11. afrank

    afrank Member

    Messages:
    125
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Another thing, how will the people know its meant to mean fading and its not just a very bad print? You should hang it next to a proper archival print so people can have a frame of reference. Just saying :tongue:
     
  12. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

    Messages:
    1,499
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Location:
    Penfield, NY
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Maybe the best way of doing this is to make a series of prints that gradually get lighter and use them to replace the older print every other night ((6x7)/2=21 prints needed) or every third night ((6x7)/3=14 prints needed).
     
  13. Marco B

    Marco B Member

    Messages:
    2,981
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Location:
    The Netherla
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Maybe a weak household bleach or diluted iodine solution (as used to disinfect) could do the trick? Iodine can even kick selenium from its bond with silver in a selenium toned print.
     
  14. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,050
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've heard of photographers in the old days giving proofs of unfixed salt prints.
     
  15. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

    Messages:
    1,626
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Could you just use old, exhausted fixer?

    Fresh fixer would work fairly quickly. It might be tricky to get them out of the bath soon enough for them to be "almost" permanent.

    Old fixer would take longer and, when it does work, wouldn't work as well.

    Alternately, what about diluting the fixer more than usual?
     
  16. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,351
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Location:
    Rome, Italy
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Sunlight should work wonders. No glass in front of the pictures. Keep the place humid. Have people drink coffee near the pictures.
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    20,239
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    just make retina prints, in camera paper negative long exposure
    without developer and don't bother fixing
    you will have negatives and they will degrade very very fast
    behind glass, maybe less time than without museum glass.
    you can also contact print onto photopaper the same way ..
    long exposures in the sun. the image will be stained on the paper
    and VERY unstable. fixing them will turn your paper white ...

    good luck !
    john
     
  18. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,002
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    Northern Vir
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have a book (Photo Art, by Worobiec and Spence), which mentions sealing tree leaves in plastic, with a fiber print. In humid conditions, the leaves bacteria and fungi will begin to eat the gelatin, beginning the decay. According to the book, it will take a few weeks, and different leaves, different papers, and differing times will produce different effects. I don't know if this is what you have in mind, but it's worth a thought.
     
  19. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

    Messages:
    2,055
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2004
    Location:
    Nicholasvill
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    The Starn twins just had a show of work in Cincinnati where the work was lit by an arc light that faded the prints through intense UV over the month of display. Viewers had to wear eye protection and were offered sunscreen at the door.

    Commercially, there was a machine we printed with called a stabilizer processor. It developed the print with a concentrated developer solution, then "stabilized" the print with a second solution. It worked like a fixer, but only temporarily. Under display, it would darken to obscurity. I believe Adorama still sells this stuff, so you might be able to get some and use it in place of fixer.
     
  20. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

    Messages:
    6,471
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Location:
    Southern USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The tricl would be to make the prints degrade on the schedule of 4 to 6 weeks. This would probably required quite a bit of experimenting to get the time right.
     
  21. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    20,239
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    would have LOVED to see the starn twins work !
    maybe... someday ..
     
  22. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

    Messages:
    613
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Rogers, AR
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Just write an artist statement. They should have one anyway
     
  23. EKDobbs

    EKDobbs Member

    Messages:
    124
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2012
    Location:
    NC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I actually had this exact idea about a year ago. However, lacking a place to install the prints publicly, as well as the patience to figure out how to get them to deteriorate slowly, I gave up.

    Best of luck! Return with results!
     
  24. wfarer

    wfarer Member

    Messages:
    2
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2012
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Wow - thanks everyone for your helpful suggestions! I apologize for the belated response; had family troubles shortly after my initial posting so I did not have time to check the board.

    Just to provide a context to the proposed installation - the wall of "fading" photographs will be mirrored on the opposite wall with "archival" photographs. So it starts off looking like two identical walls, but will change as the viewer revisits the installation later on.

    I think the trick is to ensure that the photos on the "fading" wall deterioriate at different rates. It sounds like I will have lots of experimenting to do in the darkroom!

    Thanks again for your helpful suggestions!