Geist - - Residue -

Pho­to­graphs are vig­or­ous changelings within archival col­lec­tions. Em­ber Lund­gren demon­strated for us the un­sta­ble na­ture of ni­trate and ac­etate de­com­po­si­tion by care­fully lift­ing the edge of a flake of neg­a­tive. As we watched it slowly curl back into place, the neg­a­tives— images of peo­ple, places and events—trans­form. They are gooey, fused and flaky.

Ni­trate Neg­a­tives II is an ex­am­ple of what hap­pens when ma­te­ri­als elude preser­va­tion mea­sures stor­age in freez­ers. The au­to­cat­alytic na­ture of cel­lu­lose ni­trate and ac­etate means that once the process of de­te­ri­o­ra­tion has be­gun, new prop­er­ties are gen­er­ated by the degra­da­tion, and these new prop­er­ties cre­ate fur­ther degra­da­tion2. The process is un­pre­dictable, and at­tests to the en­tropic force of the ar­chive.

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