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Breaking Rules

This last week I did something I never thought I could or ever would - I cut up my negatives! I was always taught to treat my negatives with reverence, that they were fragile things to be respected and cherished, so why on earth did I hack them up?

For experimental purposes of course.

It was painful to begin with but after the initial shock had worn off I really went to town. The idea was to layer the cut out object over another negative and stick it down to create a different type of combination print. Once the negs were glued together I would put them in the enlarger and expose to create a photograph.

It had been suggested that acetone would glue the negatives together however no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get them to stick. A google search didn't bring up any easy solutions either so I decided to play with what I had in the darkroom. The best solution seemed to be the chemicals I had to hand so I went with the diluted fix solution I already had in my dev tray. I guessed that the chemical wouldn't do any damage to the emulsion of the negative I was glueing down if used in small quantities and surprisingly, it worked well as an adhesive, keeping the negatives in place.

I was then able to put the negative in the carrier (the bit that holds it under the light in the enlarger) without the three cut outs sliding around all over the place. After a good three to four hours, and many, many prints later, I went to put the negatives back into their protective pouches to find that the heat of the light had dried out the fix and the negatives were no longer stuck. This was a pleasant surprise as it means that if I don't like the positioning when Ive printed the negative, I'm not limited, I can wash the negatives and start again.

I'm still looking for permeant solutions (and have had a few suggested) but this experimentation threw up not only some interesting prints, but some useful information about physically manipulating the negatives, that will no doubt enhance my future work.

Also, I'm still not enthralled with the prints I've produced so my next step is to create a kind of jigsaw effect and cut out the shapes of the "cut outs" from the base negative then add in the "cut outs" like jigsaw pieces. I'm not entirely sure how I'm holding it all in place at the moment, maybe by glass, maybe by acetate, maybe glue, but that's the beauty of the Masters, I get to play, I'm not supposed to have the answers yet but each printing session moves me one step closer.

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