Images are material

2022 / school project

In 1888, Kodak released their first branded camera, the Kodak No.1, with the slogan: “You press the button, we do the rest”. Since then, people have recognized image production as a simple thing. However, actually, no image can be created without elements and the labor to extract them.
In this project, images are material, we uncover the hidden materiality of images through the attempt to extract silver from the fixer and film. Even though the focus of this attempt is limited to analog film, which is recognized as an old medium, the story we can learn from it is not only about the past. In 2021, they say that 1.4 Trillion photographs were taken worldwide. Images we see every day are material even though we tend to overlook this fact.


One of the reasons we, consumers of images, tend to overlook the element and effort to extract it behind the image is its invisibility. The materiality of the image is invisible. Therefore, in this book, I tried to extract the elements, in this case, silver, from the image.
To extract silver, I mainly used two things. One is the fixer used during the photo-developing process. The other is the photographic film itself.
An image is material. This is proven by the attempt of extraction of silver from a film. And it isn’t only a story about the film. It’s about all images we see, both analog and digital. No image can be created without elements and the labor to extract it. And we should not overlook this fact.


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