Photographer Tessa Traeger has been using a trove of victorian glass negatives to create her new project The Chemistry of light. For the project she rephotographed these old plate negatives as still lives using natural light and mirrors to highlight the dramatic forms of chemical decay that have transformed the negatives over their hundred plus years in storage. The result are ghostly, dreamlike views of Victorian England. Some photographs in the project show everyday scenes like a crowd at the beach. Other images are abstractions in which the negative’s curled or damaged emulation creates a rainbow of color and folds of texture that nearly obscure the photograph’s subject. According to Tessa, the Chemistry of Light project is also about photography itself. She says that as chemical processes give way to digital technology, her collection of damaged and decaying photographs serve as a metaphor for the death of analog photography as a medium.
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