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What Happens When You Soak a Negative In Petrol and Set It on Fire

By Ashley Feinberg on at

You might be surprised to learn that the photographs in Peter Hoffman's "Fox River Derivatives" series got their ethereal, psychedelic beauty from a fairly violent source. Those effluent purple bubbles are the result of a negative that's been doused in petrol and set ablaze.

Inspired by the disastrous BP oil spil in 2010, Hoffman began experimenting with ways of incorporating a "water and oil" theme into his photography process. For these shots taken with a medium format camera, the Fox River, a 202-mile-long tributary of the Illinois River, served as the backdrop for his artistic vision.

After developing the film as usual, he coated the negatives in a layer of petrol, dropped them into a puddle of more petrol, and finished them off with his pièce de résistance—a blistering, burning match. A cool splash of water stopped the negatives' total destruction, and these were the results. All beautiful to behold, indeed. But please, don't try this at home. [Peter Hoffman via PetaPixel]