Gold in Disguise: Photographs for the Future: the new beginning

All color is fugitive; its permanence is an illusion. However, by combining photographic principles with nanotechnology, we can in theory produce true permanence and a new art form. Firefallmedia is preparing to make the oldest visual dream into reality.

Alexandria, VA,  June 5, 2006 -- To develop a new art form, based on the subtleties and permanence of gold chloride and its light sensitivity, Firefallmedia today created a new division, that will be fully operational by September 1, its mission: to achieve full-color, archival, image stability in the same print within three years. By combining solutions chemistry and nano-technology, we will succeed, according to Robinson Joyce, managing director of the new division.

The need exists. Even now in the 21st century, permanence, in art and science, in documentation and representation, is only approximate. The long life of color is an illusion. The plant, petroleum and synthetic dyes that we currently use can indeed hold fast a long time, but those based on the most stable of metals last longest. Indeed permanent imagery now is limited to the black and white produced by light-sensitive gold, silver and platinum salts.

This project, code-named The Gold Standard, is in effect a step backward, away from digital representations, to a new synthesis of organic and physical chemistry. The great English chemist Sir John Herschel experimented 150 years ago toward this goal, of visibility through gold. The full complement of tools weren’t available then. They are now.

The primary problem has been that gold salts, as a photographic medium, will yield all colors easily but yellow.

Black and white photography is commonly based on the light-sensitivities of silver nitrate. Gold chloride is an alternative, but the results are so humidity sensitive that the resulting prints can be red, blue, brown or black. The only color gold won’t give normally is yellow, because the particle size must be infinitesimally small, for yellow to appear. If it did, and yellow, blue, red and black could be achieved in a single print, all colors would then be produced, as with a modern printing press.

Given advances in nanotechnology it should now be possible to set the size of a gold particle, so that different layers with different sized particles can be uniformly distributed in sequence, to produce muted primary colors and a true four-color image, rather similar to the results of modern four-color printing.

Mike W. (PhD chemist, Oxford and gold printer), and Elihu B., (image-maker, wordsmith, and researcher) are the principals involved in this effort.

By teaming established chemists and artists in a fully-equipped laboratory in order to create photographic permanence with gold, for high-end wine labels as well as medical markers and the needs of NASA on Space Missions, Firefallmedia believes the new art-technology proposed will find a sweet space on the company balance sheet. For further info, contact Annie Azoulai, Communications VP at Firefallmedia.

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