AgX is an art-science project about material memory and forgetting – it features time-lapse macro-photography of photographic negatives being chemically destroyed. It is the second major output from a larger project entitled “after | image.”


This project is comprised of two video works. Each work explores the chemical decomposition of photographic negatives via redox reaction, ion exchange and electron transfer. The first work, “HNO3”, presents photographic negatives enveloped in nitric acid, acetic acid, and sulphuric acid. The second work, “H2O2”, uses hydrogen peroxide, copper, silver nitrate and sodium hypochlorite. These processes are digitally photographed over anything from 2 hours to 2 days, and collated into time-lapse video sequences.

The symbol “AgX” is chemical shorthand for the silver halides, the light-sensitive compounds that constitute the celluloid image. The silver halides are the ground of a certain historical regime of the image, its material basis and possibility of signification. But they are also the ground of personal and collective memory – the blood of the modern archive, its pulsing life.  As digital imaging comes to play an increasingly large role in personal and collective life, however, the form of the archive, and thus of memory AND forgetting, is changing.

AgX is thus a material enquiry into memory and forgetting, situated at the confluence of analog and digital media. The photographs in this project come from the artist’s archive of photographic materials, they record the images of friends, small details, and naïve obsessions of a former time. They are returned to us here as nostalgia, but they are also just things in the world, subject to the same physical and chemical laws as any other body, prone to dissolution and disappearance just as much as to remembrance. AgX shows us images transcending their image-ness as they reduce to their material form.


  • Brenda May Gallery, Sydney, Jan-Feb 2016.
  • MAMA Murray Art Museum Albury, NSW, March-April 2016.
  • Northern Rivers Community Gallery, Ballina NSW, April 30 – May 24 2015.
  • “Test Exposure,” 16th WRO Media Art Biennale, Wroclaw, Poland, May-September 2015.
  • Currents International New Media Festival, Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 12-28 2015.
  • “New Media New Mexico,” Warehouse 1-10 (in conjunction with Currents New Media), June 19-21 2015.
  • Sydney Contemporary Art Fair – Video Contemporary. Carriageworks, Sydney NSW, September 2015 (curated by the Australia Centre for the Moving Image).
  • National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, Taiwan, July 17-18 2015.
  • “The Return of Ghosts”, Taiwan International Video Art exhibition, Hong-Gah Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, November 2014-January 2015
  • “STATE of Time” Experience Science festival, Berlin, Germany, October 2014, curated by the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York.
  • “Bureau of Memories: Archives and Ephemera”, Hierarchy Gallery, Washington DC, December 2014, curated by the Ethnographic Terminalia collective.


The project can be presented in a number of ways. Its most simple presentation is as two separate works displayed sequentially on a single screen. However, it has also been designed for presentation as a quadrophonic dual-channel video installation; the soundtracks of each work – produced by American composer Rafael Anton Irisarri – are designed to work together in a single space, with directional speakers and two separate video channels playing simultaneously.

  • Image, concept, edit: Grayson Cooke
  • Sound: Rafael Anton Irisarri
  • Science consultation: Amanda Reichelt-Brushett

This project has been produced with the support of the School of Arts and Social Science and the School of Environment, Science and Engineering, at Southern Cross University.


Sheryl Cheung, “The Return of Ghosts” – Artforum Critic’s Picks. Artforum, Nov 1 2014.

Ethnographic Terminalia Collective. “Ethnographic Terminalia – After the Bureau of Memories: Reflections at the Intersections of Archives, Art and Anthropology.” Mnemoscape  issue 2.!ethnographic-terminalia—after-the-bure/c2n8.


The image gallery below contains photos from the AgX project’s installation at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery, Ballina NSW, May 2015.