7. A LAB. ONE HAND DEVELOPS, THE OTHER FIXES.
FOR SIR JOHN FREDERICK WILLIAM HERSCHEL, 1970-1972
“Experiment 1013. January 29, 1939. Found the sodium thiosulfate needed to arrest the action of the light thus eliminating by washing all the silver chloride. Perfect results. Paper half-exposed, and half-protected from the light thanks to a cardboard cover. Then taken out of the light and sprayed with sodium thiosulfate, followed by a thorough cleansing with pure water. Dried, then exposed again, the dark half remains dark, the white half remains white whatever the exposure time.” This is my lab verification, that is, a process in which the camera is excluded and the development and fixing are highlighted: a process that I wanted to be devoid of emotion and extremely dry and clear, the same as that described in the scientific annotation left to us by Herschel. In the lab everything is done with one’s hands: taking the sheets, placing them under the enlarger, adjusting the focus, lifting the enlarger, lowering it, taking the sheet, immersing it in the fixer. The hands play the main role, and they are also the subject of this pair of photographs: I immersed one in the developer, the other in the fixer. After allowing the sheet to be exposed to the light, under the enlarger, I placed them and flattened them on the sheet itself so as to divide it in two. The hand immersed in the developer appeared instantly, the other hand only appeared when half of the sheet had been developed.