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THE LABORATORY

 




7. The laboratory
A hand develops, the other prints - To Sir John Frederick William Herschel
(“Experiment 1013. 29th January 1939. Found the hyposulfite of soda can stop the action of the light removing the silver chloride by washing. A success. Half the paper exposed and the other half protected from the light with cardboard. Then removed from light, sprayed it with hyposulfite of soda and then washed accurately with pure water. Dried, exposed again, the half turned black remains black, the white half remains white after any exposure time”).

This is my verification of the laboratory, that is of a process where the camera is not involved and where development and fixation are emphasized. I wanted this process to be devoid of any emotion and to be characterised by an extreme dryness and clarity, as that of Herschel's scientific annotations. In the laboratory everything is done by hands: you take the sheet, put it under the enlarger, focus, lift the enlarger, let it down, take the sheet again, dip it into the developer, wash it, take it again, dip it in the fixer. The hands are then the protagonists and also the only subject of this couple of photographs: I have dipped one of them in the developer and one in the fixer. I have exposed the sheet to the light and then, I have placed my hands on the sheet itself, under the enlarger, pressing them as to divide the sheet in two parts. The hand dipped in the developer has appeared immediately, the other only when the half of the sheet has been developed.