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DYE DESTRUCTION PRINT

A dye destruction print is a silver-process-
colour print obtained using a positive transparency
– normally a slide – or, from the 1990s onwards,
a digital file.

Based on a technique developed by Dr Bela Gaspar in the first half of the 20th century, an image is formed from the selective bleaching – or selective destruction –
of dyes during the development process. The process
is based on subtractive three-colour synthesis: the print support is composed of three layers of yellow, magenta
and cyan-coloured gelatin on laminated paper
or a pigmented plastic film. Unlike the supports
used for chromogenic processing, the image is formed
from dyes already present in the sensitized paper which are then destroyed according to the amount of light received.

Following a research agreement made between
photographic-support manufacturer Ilford and the chemical group Ciba, in 1963 the technique was marketed under
the name Cilchrome®, which later became Cibachrome®,
and finally, in 1991, Ilfochrome®. A dye destruction print on a polyester support has a unique aesthetic. The plastic support produces an ultra bright image, and the azo dyes reproduce the transparency's luminosity and depth
of colour. When a RC (Resin Coated) support is used,
the colours are softer, and the surfaces more varied, satiny and bright. The prints are similar to those obtained from chromogenic processing, but the print's
dyes have a much higher level of stability.

Ilford's 2013 bankruptcy declaration signaled
the technique's gradual disappearance.

Visual glossary of photographic techniques
© ARCP / Mairie de Paris, 2014

Loretta Lux, The Walk, 2004
Loretta Lux, The Walk, 2004
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