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Like Art From The Walls Of Carcosa, These Bacteria-Eaten Photos Will Haunt You

Photographer Seung-Hwan Oh’s microbial series erodes photos like time will eventually erode all of us–but we can’t look away.

Photographer Seung-Hwan Oh wants his photos destroyed.

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The Seoul-based artist’s latest series has been years in the making, because his collaborators–emulsion-eating microbes–work very slowly destroying photographs in a way that is both beautiful and eerie.

The aptly titled series “Impermanence” features photographs that have been dipped in water laced with bacteria that gradually breaks down the silver halides, the key element that captures light in photographs, resulting in what Oh describes as “an aesthetic of entangled creation and destruction.”

The process takes months, even years, to achieve, and is above all ephemeral: All the photos will be completely destroyed over time. But Oh has digitized his selects, shown here as haunting stills of swirling technicolor.


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About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.

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