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‘Recycled’ – Stop Motion Made From Thousands of 35mm Negatives Salvaged From a Recycling Center

By Hanssie on February 14th 2016

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,’ or so the saying goes and is quite appropriate when watching the following stop-motion video.

In my parent’s shed, there is a mountain of old photo albums – the kind with the sticky pages and plastic. My grandfather spent years organizing and cataloguing images that date back to the early 1900’s when he was a boy in China and my grandma was a little girl in Japan. Each album holds hundreds of images, my family’s history.

For years, I have told them that we needed to get the photographs into archival safe albums as the negatives to these thousands and thousands of images are now gone – lost over decades of moves over continents and such. So, this year, my project has been sorting through the endless amount of albums and images transferring each picture into a new album to keep our family’s heritage safe.

My mom and I, circa 1979

My mom and I, circa 1979


So what has become of all the discarded negatives of old? The years and years of memories that are recorded on a 35mm strip, forgotten once our images get picked up from a lab? In a box somewhere? Tossed in the trash? For three years, French artist Thomas Sauvin curated these discarded negatives at a Bejing recycling center, “where they had been sent to be filtered for their silver nitrate content.” These images span about 30 years and gives us a brief glimpse at the anonymous lives at the turn of China’s cultural revolution. Collecting over half a million discarded Kodak moments, Sauvin exhibited these images at a gallery a few years ago and titled the project, Bejing Silvermine, 2010-present.

Sauvin was approached by Chinese artist Lei Lei, who selected 3000 images to produce the following stop-motion animation. It has since won numerous awards and accolades, including being a vimeo staff pic.

I watched the 5:39-minute video twice, and I could’ve sworn I saw a few pictures from my family albums.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Andre Queree

    Nice idea. Possibly too much of the destroyed negatives. It’s interesting to see how so many people take the same standard tourist shots.

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  2. Robert Marriott

    Epic ??

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  3. Bob Davis

    A bit different…

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  4. Hannes Nitzsche

    that’s trippy to say the least

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