The Internet or books often have a different surface characteristic than the print, if the image is meant to be seen in the digital domain or the wanted end product is a book reproduction or an inkjet print. Then the picture is better on the internet or in the book as it was the photographers original intention if on the other hand the photo was made to be seen as handprint in a gallery then the picture in the gallery is the better one. The photographers original intention is what should count. I personally prefer a good print hanging in gallery/museum to an internet picture.
Artists make choices when they print, and it's the culmination of all their decisions in framing the exposure, exposing the film, choice of processing, interpreting the negative, cropping and framing the print, and finally toning and choice of presentation. All those decisions matter to me, and one thing that is immensely important to me is scale. Imagine a Gursky print that's several feet across, represented by an 800x600 pixel jpeg on a web site, or an 8x6" reproduction in a book. While I don't like Gursky's work in general, I can appreciate the impact of scale, which is another intention the photographer has when they make their exposures.
So, to me, and this is my opinion, I think the final print holds tremendous value for the viewing experience. It is an entirely different experience from looking in a book, on a computer screen or projection. Someone mentioned surface texture of a print; you mentioned photogravure - the relief of the print, which I think is an important aspect of making them in the first place, and it doesn't show in a book or on a computer screen.
There are many reasons for me to enjoy the print as the ultimate form of expression.
OK, Clive. For you, there is no added value to seeing an original print over a reproduction. I will accept that, and maybe some others will ...
But you asked the question. Not everybody agrees, and when you ask this type of question, this is what happens.
I think the whole discussion comes down to the fact that you do not consider a print to be anything but a "reproduction" of the negative, so there is no more value there than any other type of reproduction. Fair enough. But, as you can see, there is a variety of opinions.
When Beethoven wrote one of his symphonies he may also/or not have conducted the orchestra to play it. This could be said to be unique, as it his original score and his interpretation of his score to performance. However, someone in the future may conduct a version of this symphony that most people consider better, but both versions come from the original score. This does not detract from the value of the writerís original interpretation, but let us also remember that the original orchestrated by writer of the score, was also performed with the instruments and technology available at the time. Future technology may allow a better interpretation not available to Beethoven at the time.
Does this help, as I also am not trying to start an argument, it is just my opinion.
My end "product" is a finished hand-made print...an art piece. Any other form of my work is only a reproduction. But since many people will never get to see one of my prints, reproductions are a way to share what my art is like.
I try not to extend this bias to the work of others...mostly I am successful. I am equally an image maker and a print maker. To see only a reproduction of my work is to only see half of my art.
the difference is that the score and the playing of the score are not the same as a photograph and a photoreproduction.
your argument would make (more?) sense if it was the playing of beethoven's piece LIVE and a reproduction of it
on tape, microcassett, reel to reel a wire recording of it &c.
beethoven conducting his own symphony and someone else conducting it ( days, years or centuries later ) has to do with interpretation,
like 2 different people making prints from the same negative ...
reproduction ( not matter what the technology ) has nothing to do with interpretation + creation...
Re: Composers - I don't think the comparison is fair. A negative should be compared to the sheet music in my opinion, and a print, which is an interpretation of the negative, should be compared to a musical interpretation of the sheet music. We cannot listen to something that Beethoven conducted, obviously, but luckily there are many talented conductors that can. While we can never know exactly what Beethoven's preferences were, other than historical records, at least we have the sheet music.
With a photographic print, we're still in an age where prints made when the artists were still alive can be viewed, as a testament to their preference and decisions made while they printed them, and that is of tremendous value in my opinion. For example, I forget the name of that New York photographer whose negatives they found recently, documenting the city over decades. Finding those negatives holds tremendous value, but I think if they had found prints also, that would have been even more valuable. That would have been equal to knowing how Beethoven would prefer that his musical scores were performed.
I agree that future technologies may take us places we haven't even imagined yet. I have no idea whether I will like it or not. Only time will tell. Opinions change and vary with experience, that's for sure. I'm only 40 years old, and have been through many changes already, and I'm curious to find what the future holds.