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The Strindberg gold sample

The Strindberg gold sample

During the engagement with the pictorial nature of photographic material I discovered August Strindberg’s experiments. I was intrigued in paticular by his experiments with gold and the follwing quotation: »Gold is sunlight / photographed / and / fixed«. How did Strindberg come to set his experiment in analogy to photography? What did he believe to see on his shining paper drafts? Artificially won gold or photographed sunlight?

As the statement of seeing sunlight was already explored in this case, I decided to only document the goldpaper and the idea of it. Hence, I charged someone to take a photo of the goldpaper in the Royal Library in Stockholm. Accompanied by a text I present the image of the gold­paper on a scale of 1:1. Ruler, gray- and colorscale indicate the method of reproduction photography. This enhances the ambivalent character of the object, as it was formu­lated by Strindberg.

year: 2011
image size unframed: 24 x 36 cm each
material: digital c-prints
presentation: wooden box-section frame with glass

text in combination with the image:

»The Swede August Strindberg (1849 – 1912) tried over many years, to manufacture gold artificially. The chemicals, with which he expe­rimented, were used also in earlier photographic procedures. Strindberg was therefore of the opinion, that the actual goal of the photo pioneers would have been the transformation of silver into gold.

He began eventually to work with laminated papers under exposure to light. In fact gold-shining surfaces occured. An investigation however showed, that none of his samples contained gold. Strindberg declared the results as wrong and made following note on a piece of paper:

Guld är Solljuset
fotograferat
och
fixeradt.

Gold is sunlight
photographed
and
fixed.

Later, in 1988, a new investigation of the papers proved the negative results.«