Death, decay, and "insidious mire"--all terms that might make a film archivist shudder.
In this piece written by PRO-TEK's very own Randy Gitsch, he describes an interesting find in one of the still photo collections his team is working on.
After coming across a deteriorating nitrate photograph, he fills us in on a little history behind it, but more importantly for anyone interested in preservation, he describes why and how nitrate deterioration happens:
The strong off gassing of this negative, or any like it, can induce autocatalytic chemical change and resultant deterioration in otherwise “healthy” nitrate stored in its’ proximity. Its’ sticky surface can adhere it to adjacent, negatives, melding them together on either side of the initial culprit. The process repeats itself until all negatives in a box become infected…then adjacent boxes become infected. For this reason we identify and isolate these deteriorating holdings and prior to their inevitable destruction, always attempt to replicate the precious image by scanning them, one last time.