Art to last 10,000 years

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 25, 2008

In order to create art for the 10,000-year Clock chamber, Edward Burtynsky has been investigating how to make photographic prints that last a long time.

Burtynsky went on a quest for a technical solution. He thought that automobile paint, which holds up to harsh sunlight, might work if it could be run through an inkjet printer, but that didn’t work out. Then he came across a process first discovered in 1855, called “carbon transfer print.” It uses magenta, cyan, and yellow inks made of ground stone-the magenta stone can only be found in one mine in Germany-and the black ink is carbon.

On the stage Burtynsky showed a large carbon transfer print of one of his ultra-high resolution photographs. The color and detail were perfect. Accelerated studies show that the print could hang in someone’s living room for 500 years and show no loss of quality. Kept in the Clock’s mountain in archival conditions it would remain unchanged for 10,000 years.