THE ART PROCESS: Emulsion Lifts
An emulsion lift is the process of deconstructing certain instant films and extracting the exposed emulsion then placing it on an alternate surface to manipulate it’s original state.
I’ve delved into the internet for some heavy research on emulsions lifts and discovered that photographers are increasingly finding major appeal to produce images which look withering and possibly disintegrating. I had to ignore my mind screaming “why?” and tap in to my curiosity, asking myself “how?”.
It starts with a steamy soak and quickly becomes a process almost as tedious as removing gum from one’s own hair. It’s really quite neat though, in a picking-a-scab sort of way. Take a look at this video to see some hands in action.
I’ve seen varying results, the bulk of which seem purely experimental, yet I’m noticing emulsion lifts as being the centre of some artists’ creative output. At this point, however, since the initial “wonder” wore off, I almost chalk it up to “if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”, much like sunsets. (if the sun was melting itself along the edges seemingly threatening to eliminate it’s own existence…)
However, it doesn’t make these kind of images any less enjoyable to look at. In the examples shown above (source 1, source 2) you can see some attempts proving to be eery and fragile. I suppose the lifted emulsion is only as good as the original photograph. Meaning, I’ve yet to see where this manipulation has truly enhanced the original, but still the purpose of fragility and delicacy communicates quite clearly.
If you’d like to try this process yourself, I suggest checking out the Impossible Project polaroid film website. You will find the the correct film and tools for purchase as well as a step-by-step video tutorial.