In an age of connectivity, where a simple “enter” allows us to acknowledge or deny love online, we are losing our connection to powerful memories from the past. The era wherein writing and reading letters was an act of affection, carried out with unwavering devotion seems to be behind us. Following a similar trajectory perhaps, in an era of digitalization, the dark room is now forever shrouded in black.
In this AltLab Residency, the five of us are exploring this
lost medium once again. I have chosen to work with the Van Dyke process with which I have been trying to develop a new relationship for the past 3 to 4 days now under the guidance of the very friendly and helpful Chaitanya. It sure is a tough friend to make considering that the formula of Van Dyke Brown is very difficult to handle.
The three chemicals that I am experimenting with to develop images in this process are:
1. Ferric Ammonium Citrate (0.3 gms) mixed with 11 ml distilled water
2. Tartaric Acid (0.5 gms) mixed with 11 ml distilled water
3. Silver nitrate, the most dangerous of all as it can cause marks on your skin and also blindness, (1.2 gms) mixed with 11 ml distilled water
I mixed these three chemicals and left them to be for 24 hours.
Then, with 1 ml of the mixture on a brush, spread it on the surface of the postcard and expose it in UV light for 45 minutes. Noting down the temperature, humidity and exposure time is imperative. The postcard is then washed in simple running water. Then, 120 gms of ammonium bicromate (hypo) are mixed with 1 litre distilled water to make a fixing agent. The postcard is then washed in 400 ml of the fixer for 5 minutes. Consecutively, it is washed in a tray of running water for 15 more minutes.
This is how I printed my first Van Dyke Browns for this Residency.
English translation courtesy Saee Haldule