[alt-photo] chromo vs chemigram

douglas collins dougcollins99 at gmail.com
Tue Jan 11 13:38:14 GMT 2011


Since Christina Z Anderson has raised this and I work in the field, let me
put in my two cents' worth.

The issue about chromos vs chemigrams I think is a false issue, and I'll
tell you why.  The chromo chemicals are no more than part of the armentarium
(is that the word?) of any good darkroom maven - indeed there are many
accelerators, stabilizers, modifiers, that can all be added to the basic
stew to produce various effects, depending on pH or concentration or
agitation etc.  The salts of thiocyanic acid - and there are several - are
known to be solvents for silver halide, thus they are obvious candidates for
investigation, but it doesn't stop there.  (There's a picture of the
chemistry room at Manhattan Graphics on our blog, nonfigurativephoto).  It's
like cooking -  you can always add more pepper, more garlic, and discover
new flavors.  Still, in the end, you have to have a developer or some kind,
and a fixer of some kind, and a strategy for manipulating them.  These then
are chemigrams, the rest is dressing.

It goes back to Kesting, Chargesheimer, Teske, but it was never developed
systematically until Cordier came along in 1956, and showed his first
results to Otto Steinert in Germany.  He had an exhibition of chemigrams at
MoMA in New York in 1967 under John Szarkowski with more colors than most of
us dream of.  He's spent the past 50 years refining the method, and it's
summarized in his book.

So in my view the chromoskedasic effects should be seen as effects of
modification, but not of essence.  In fact, their effects, at the
microscopic level, are continuous with those of standard developer and
fixer.  The devil is in the details of course...

Douglas Collins

douglas collins
cell 646-678-0172

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