INTIMACY AND HOW SIZE MATTERS (not X-rated)
Print presentation has, in its arsenal, many subjective qualities with which its author may, or may not, match the aesthetic needs of the viewing public. Indeed, those very needs just might not distill into a convenient generic paradigm which satisfies all. For example, I do not like 'titles' on prints (other than those that are purely and objectively descriptive) because one, then, seems to be robbed of the liberty of 'reading into' the print, as opposed to 'being told' what to see. I like to think for myself. I might not agree with the author and, thus, become at odds with him.
Similarly, print size becomes another factor to deal with. Perusing an old copy of Shutterbug, the brilliant writer Roger Hicks had an article on this very subject: print size. He actually made quite a convincing argument for making smaller print sizes and used a word that immediately struck me as perfect prose and syntax: 'intimate'. I have always liked prints to be smaller than most have wanted (or thought would be wanted). They are more comfortable to view and force one to get closer. Of course, subject matter must come into play when deciding upon print size (ie, a large group's portrait or vast scenic will demand sufficient magnification, whereas a single face, or a picture of a single, small numismatic or philatelic item such as a coin or postage stamp, allows and encourages this 'intimacy' and might even benefit from lack of a larger, distance-forcing 'footprint').
Of course, if distance from print to viewer must be an unavoidable factor (museums, art galleries), that factor will be an ultimate determinant here, as only then will a larger print 'regain' such sought after intimacy (if necessarily viewed from afar). The bottom line is that visual comfort and lack of physical efforts effects in order to attain an ideal vantage point indicates real success with the size choice. Prints must segue into our normal way of seeing things and must not become an undue burden when extra physical factors have to come into play, in order to achieve this vantage point.
I guess what I would really like to stress is this: some printers feel that larger is always better and, thus, large size indicates a more profound, more 'professional' representation of one's artistic endeavor. However, 'generic' aesthetics, refined and measured through an amalgam of humanity, does not always see things that way. Sometimes subtleties become more potent than bombast, aggression, and an underlying inference that 'largeness' might make up for a decided lack of artistic focus. We live in a society which defines, at times, such subtleties as subordinate. Thoughts? - David Lyga.