Artist Finds and Develops Ancient Photo Paper, Some Older Than a Century

Using expired film is pretty common among analog photographers, but have you heard of anyone using expired photo paper… from over a century ago? That’s what artist Alison Rossiter does. For her project “Lost and Found”, she collected hundreds of sheets of expired photo paper from decades past — some more than 100 years older than the expiration date found on their packages — and then developed them to uncover abstract images.

Rossiter doesn’t expose the paper with photos prior to developing them. Most of the papers don’t produce pleasing results. Instead, what’s seen on them are the indications of decades of decay: stains, scratches, fingerprints, and shadows.

Ansco Cyko, expired May 1918

Eastman Kodak Bromesko (London), expiration date unknown

Barnet Gaslight, expired in the 1920s

You can find a large selection of Rossiter’s work over at the website of the Stephen Bulger Gallery, where the work is being exhibited.

Image credits: Photographs by Alison Rossiter

  • The_photographer_Tom

    So it’s old photographic paper. Well past it’s expiration date. She’s dipped them in developer and now they’re hanging in a gallery?

  • Sam

    Come on man, if you’re a frequent reader of a photo blog you should understand this the most… ART IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER. This sounds like an interesting project, try not to hate on it so much because it seems really easy to do. I would assume you are not a fan of Marcel Duchamp’s readymade art…

  • Daschund

    Yep… I don’t see the point either…

  • guest

    lolol bitter because he thinks he’s more talented

  • Alan Dove

    Yes. Do a search on “conceptual art.” Not really my cup of tea either, but enough folks are into it that it’s considered a real genre.

  • The_photographer_Tom

    Actually I don’t “hate on” anything. My post was meant to reflect my bemusement. I do read a lot of photo blogs but tend to stick mainly with ones that portray the photography I like.
    By the way. Do you know what the word “photograph” means? it means to draw with light. The “artist” mentioned above did none of that. She simply took unexposed sheets of paper out of their packing and developed (for want of a better word) them.
    Do I think I’m more talented? Well yes. Certainly more talented than dipping unexposed paper into developer.
    I am the first to admit that I like my photography for the most part to accurately represent what was actually in front of the lens when the image was made.I started my photographic career in the late seventies and was taught to get it right in the camera. I’ve tried to stick to that maxim as much as possible in my current work. I keep the use of post processing to a bare minimum. It’s also what my clients and customers like.
    I even wrote about this on my blog.
    As far as this arty stuff goes, I’m not a fan.
    Anyway. Rant over. I’m now going to raid my old film box in the attic and develop some sheet film from 1932. Contact sheets of these negs will be produced and digitised. These will then be subjected to Instagram. I will call the resulting exhibition “Unseen Greatness”
    This will be my artist statement:
    “My work explores the relationship between blog commentators and midlife subcultures.
    With influences as diverse as Machiavelli and Miles Davis, new tensions are crafted from both simple and complex structures.
    Ever since I was a pre-adolescent I have been fascinated by the unrelenting divergence of the human condition. What starts out as yearning soon becomes corrupted into a carnival of defeat, leaving only a sense of decadence and the prospect of a new beginning.
    As shifting replicas become undefined through emergent and diverse practice, the viewer is left with an insight into the corners of our existence.”

    I’ll inform Petapixel when it’s ready. :o)

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    “Do I think I’m more talented? Well yes” … there’s your mistake. whether someone has talent or not is extremely subjective – and thinking you’re better than someone else just makes you an asshole. (and personally, I’m failing to see the talent in your work, it’s fairly rudimentary photography club/hobbyist stuff – but that’s just my critical opinion) And if this “arty stuff” isn’t something you’re a fan of – why bother making a comment on it? Sure, it would be interesting to read an argument about whether this work has relevance or not; if it can be called art or not – but you’re not doing that, you’re just moaning into your keyboard like a 12 year old on youtube. You even say yourself on your blog – “I don’t understand modern art” … that doesn’t surprise me since Modernism was before your time. (Personally I don’t pretend to understand it either, but I look at modernism the same way I listen to music from countries that I don’t speak the language – I don’t understand what they’re singing about but I can still appreciate it for what it is). You’re a realist and that’s fine – just don’t try to patch your ideologies of realism onto something conceptual or surreal because you’re just going to end up looking silly.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    rather an elitist view. What makes something that you’re into more “real” than what others are into? What makes your preferred genres more important or worthy of note?

  • The_photographer_Tom

    Hit a nerve did I Adam?

    Calling someone an asshole in a public forum and denigrating their work? If you’re going to belittle another photographer’s work then be careful what you yourself post online.

    Actually I do welcome your critical opinion. You’ve obviously learned lots in the two months you’ve been at art school.

    My “rudimentary photography club / hobbyist work” has kept me in work in many countries as a photographer since 1979. Longer than you’ve been on this Earth.

    You didn’t quote exactly what I said did you? I said that I was more talented than developing unexposed sheets of paper. Obviously I’m not in your league because I’ve seen your Behance portfolio!

    Anyway Adam. Let’s agree to disagree. I’m off to organise a shoot for an architectural firm. Best of luck with your studies.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    I’ve been making photographs for almost 20 years (yes, I count the days when I was a child using my parents cameras) – the fact that I’m currently at university is irrelevant (nothing wrong with wanting degrees, right?) – it’s fine if you’re making work for companies that want the kind of work that you do, finding a niche and excelling at that is great – I was merely giving you my personal opinion. Giving my opinion isn’t belittling anyone – but I guess some people are better at taking criticism than others. I wasn’t making a quip or saying your work is terrible but even if I did – saying something is terrible is still perfectly okay – you’re welcome to think anything I’ve done is terrible

  • Doktor Jon

    I don’t know whether this would be of any interest, but if I remember correctly, the original Bar-Gas paper wasn’t actually developed as such. It was however used to produce prints by simply contact printing from glass plates (using a solar exposure over typically half an hour), and then fixing the image in the normal way. If I’d have known ancient developing paper was so trendy, I’d have a ferret around to see if I have any of my Kodak Velux paper still left in stock :-))