Throwing chemicals, fire, and scratching emulsion are just a few ways of experimenting with film. But there's another process that completely destroys it (or, if you're lucky, creates something amazing), that is as spastic as a drunken man staggering his way home after a night at the pub - literally. And it all comes down to darkness.
The central theme of this experiment comes down to one key component of analogue photography: darkness.
In essence, what we’ll be doing is an entire experimentation in darkness – from the time you select your roll of film to the time you roll your film back after it’s been exposed in the camera.
WARNING: This process, although really neat, requires people who more or less know what they’re doing and are willing to take quite a large risk. There’s no guarantee that anything will come out (many of my friends will attest to this), and there’s a lot of processes to be done in complete darkness. If you’ve never done things like develop your own film or experimented with emulsion pre-exposure, then this process might be a stretch for you.
- A roll of film, or more if you’re game
- Your camera
- A few friends
- Household chemicals/lighters/scourers/beverages for film carnage
- Pegs for hanging the film
1. At night, gather a small collective of fellow lomographers – the more, the merrier (although all of these people need to be able to fit inside a light-sealed room, such as a bathroom – it depends on how steamy you like it).
2. Tell everyone to bring a roll of film and their camera.
3. Have some drinks.
4. Remember where the household cleaners and anything else you might want to throw at your film are. Let the other lomographers know about it, light seal your room, get a hair blow-dryer, then TURN OFF THE LIGHTS IN THE ENTIRE HOUSE.
5. Lucky dip chemical time. Everyone take a chemical/film destroyer and head to the light-sealed room (don’t forget your drink).
6. Lucky dip film roll time. Everyone take a film roll.
7. Unroll the film and hang it from somewhere. Take turns spraying/destroying a roll of film with your particular chemical. Use the hair dryer to dry up the chemicals from the film (or not), then roll back up, taking care not to roll the leader in.
8. Redistribute the film rolls randomly, then load it into your respective cameras. ALL THESE SHOULD BE DONE IN THE DARK.
You now have some unknown film, with unknown chemicals!
There’s really no limit to what you can do and what the results might be. But remember, if ever you’ll like something, there’s really no way of telling what it is. In the examples I posted, I have absolutely no idea what was thrown in on the film. But that’s part of its beauty.
- It’s very, very important that you check your cleaner cupboard for any dangerous chemicals that you might have. Take them out before you turn off the lights.
- It really pays to do this in a bathroom with an extractor fan. The chemicals sprayed around the room can be pretty intense and potentially harmful.
- You may want to keep all of your film rolls at the same ISO/developing process. This is just so that your film doesn’t come out as an expensive piece of plastic. But it’s lucky dip, so no one will know who put it in.
- You may want to practice loading your camera in darkness, or assist your fellow lomographers. It can get quite crazy after a few drinks in complete darkness.