In this series, I created a group of chemigrams using chemicals and materials related to World War I gas masks. In my research, I found that the first chemical used as a neutralizing agent in gas masks was sodium thiosulfate or hypo, a standard photographic fixer. I was inspired by this unexpected chemical link between two of my passions – history and photography – and sought a way to creatively combine them in my art.
By focusing on the chemicals used in these early gas masks, I limited the materials to photographic paper, developer, water, glycerin, salt, and sodium thiosulfate. The first gas masks used in World War were made with pads or hoods soaked in a solution of glycerin and sodium thiosulfate. This chemical solution was used to neutralize the effects of chlorine gas. In order to further the relationship between the ideas and materials in my work, I also included table salt, as sodium chloride is the most common compound of chlorine.