glowing trails

by Megan Abbott

I just read a fascinating piece about photographer Angela Strassheim, who takes these haunting photos of homes where a crime occurred, frequently long ago.

The bright flashes in the photos are the result of  “chemiluminescence”–the reaction between Bluestar, a chemical reagent used by forensics specialists, and blood residue. The walls are long cleaned, but the chemiluminescence remains. Using long exposures, Strassheim captures what the naked eye can’t.

One forensics science expert interviewed in the article, however, isn’t convinced it’s blood that she’s capturing, noting that Bluestar also reacts to “other materials, such as bleach and … horseradish sauce.”

Somehow that last detail lingers the most with me. Something about the ordinariness (or not) of these scenes of extraordinary tumult and loss.

(Photo from Wired )

5 Comments to “glowing trails”

  1. A few years ago USC got hold of the Herald Examiner’s photo archive and held a show at the Doheny Library of some of their crime photos.

    Besides a large focus on the Stompanato murder and aftermath, they also featured several pics of gunshot bodies, car crashes, and dead hookers.

    One in particular was of a woman who died from being stabbed with a serving fork. The picture showed the woman, the stereotypical 1950’s homemaker, in heels, apron and done up hair, lying on the floor of an immaculate living room that wouldn’t look out of place as a Hollywood set. She looks like she decided to lie down in the middle of the floor and take a nap.

    Except for the 8 inches of serving fork protruding from her chest.

    The police couldn’t tell if she somehow fell on the fork and rolled over onto her back or if someone stabbed her.

    It’s such a strangely ordinary scene that’s been pulled cross-wise into weird territory. Like a Charles Addams cartoon where you look at it and can’t figure out why there’s something so terribly wrong with it. And then you figure out someone in the scene has three arms.

  2. Chilling and sad, even if it is from horseradish. The crime still happened.

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