Art-science interactions in the destruction of an archive: the after | image project

Document Type


Publication details

Reichelt-Brushett, A & Cooke, G in press, 'Art-science interactions in the destruction of an archive: the after | image project', Leonardo.

Peer Reviewed



The after | image project is an art-science collaboration, an enquiry into notions of material memory and forgetting, and archival preservation and dissolution. The project involves the intentional destruction of a photographic archive with various acids, chemical compounds and oxidizing agents, and records this destruction using time-lapse macro-photography. By doing this we challenge the often intense human desire to retain a record of the past, a “hard copy” of our memory. In the process of destroying the negative film we create something new and by doing this we are afforded the opportunity to revisit our memories and their materialization within photographic media. This paper explains the approaches used and results achieved both materially and theoretically. In particular, we focus on the notion of “repeatability” as a trope which foregrounds the intertwining of artistic and scientific approaches. What collaborations like after | imagefacilitate is the development of knowledge that is underpinned by both aesthetic qualities and experimental design, and is thus both artistically and scientifically “true” at the same time.