Like you, Doug, I experience the two different ways of viewing the print gives me a different experience.
Originally Posted by artonpaper
I really enjoy holding a print in my hands; it's a very intimate experience that I value dearly. You can feel the texture and weight of the paper in your very hands.
At the same time I view a print that's mounted behind a window mat as more 'complete', and it's easier for me to step back from scrutinizing the details and focus on the bigger picture (literally). When I finish a series of prints, I try to have them all mounted and put behind a window mat, because it sort of seals the project and allows me to break free and move on to the next one.
Strangely, though, I don't like viewing prints when they're framed on the wall and behind glass anymore. I still display some of my work and other people's work on my walls this way, mainly because it's the only practical way with dust flying around and cats acting upon their curiosity 'can't help myself but I gotta scratch it' drive.
I guess I love it all, but how the picture is displayed alters how I view the it, with most certainty.
When I'm working on a print, getting exposure and contrast right, dodging or burning, toning, drying and spotting, I have been so close to that image that I see every wart and every wrinkle.
Handling an unframed or unmounted print often brings me so close that I can't see the forest for the trees. I see every little pinprick, every little dust spot and every little place I should have done something different. At minimum, I need to have them mounted in a portfolio book or else my eyes start going over the print with a fine toothed comb.
Putting a print into a frame and hanging it on the wall lets me stand back three feet and say, "Done!"
I was recently working on a bunch of prints, sitting at the dining room table, dabbing all the spots out with my brush. I was bitching and hollering like I always do. While I don't "hate" spotting, I find it so tedious that it sometimes makes me grouchy, especially when I can't make it come out the way I want.
So, my wife came over and tried to be supportive. She looked at the four prints we have hanging on the dining room wall and said, "These don't have spots."
I got up close and looked for a minute. Soon, I found them but it took a while.
Now that I have the latest batch of pictures in frames, I would have to go up close and look at them for a minute, too, in order to see the spots.
Putting a photo in a frame smooths out the proverbial wrinkles and makes it so I can look at them without over analyzing.
Ultimately, I'd like to show my work wet in the tray.
They really do look the best that way.
Platinum and palladium never look better.
They gleam and glisten when wet and wetter.
Since photography is essentially a visual medium, it's sort of cheating to bring in the tactile element because you are adding an extra sensory experience to the viewer.
So to me, naturally adding an extra element should increase the enjoyment but most prints are framed and hung so they can only offer the visual experience.
In all human experience, adding more sensory elements bumps up the intimacy and reaction to something.
In a practicality point of view though, most people don't have the luxury or adding more sensory elements to their photographs because most photography is frame and touching is frowned upon for obvious reasons. (
Size also can enhance a print. Because the size of a print is really all about viewing distance, eg: smaller print closer viewing, larger print further viewing, so by definition a smaller closer print is more intimate.
No stating a choice here, but the gallery is theatre. Treating bricks and mortar any other way doesn't serve the work or its audience. That was paramount when I designed and built my gallery. I used theater techniques and terminology in building it, much to the confused looks of the subcontractors: house lights, spots, staging, presentation, ambience, etc. Today's "viewing public", with all the visual opportunities for their eyes, demands dramatic presentation. Proper lighting and presentation sets the stage (literally) for a print on an otherwise blank wall. This is why I take presentation as seriously as the print itself. Many, many galleries and museums are so dreary, with poorly lit artwork, admittedly and unfortunately due to the decided un-archivalness of many works, only the reputations of known artwork typically draws viewers. They are not fit to show robust classically produced photography as intended by the artist (witness the dreary Elliot Porter show at the Getty from several years ago).
Originally Posted by artonpaper
By objective reckoning, how successful were my methods? The gallery, underfunded at the time of its eventual opening, the very day of the October 2008 Stock Market Crash and subsequent depression, did not survive economically. A total and abject failure. Yet, prior to its restructuring into a straight bank, the investment firm of Morgan Stanley, adopted it as their preferred location in which to host their clients. Vogue magazine scheduled a fashion shoot within my walls. Ahem.
...Hmmm, maybe I am stating a choice after all.
Good point. Try holding a 30"x40" in your hands. :eek:
Originally Posted by blansky
I think that not only does mounting make a difference - but the type and size and colour of the mount matters, too.
I entered some prints into a competition. They were black and white 16 X 12". I spent quite some time with in the local art shop with the guy who was going to mount them, who was an artist, discussing and trying different sizes and colours of mounts. We settled on a 2 inch mount in chocolate brown with the edges painted (rather than left white). This seemed to lift the highlights and make them glow more than a pale mount would - but a black mount seemed to make the shadows in the pictures seem less impressive.
I liked the effect, I felt it added a lot to the images.
I got some sort of prize in the competition (nothing special) and my prints were displayed, along with the other winners and commended entries, in a local gallery. Without my permission the organisers had decided to mount every entry the same way - in a huge white mount. IMHO It made the pictures look terrible.
I was furious. Never entered a competition since :-(
Which is one of the main reasons galleries/dealers love unmounted (dry mounted) prints. It's all disguised as "it's more archival to not dry mount" when in reality they only care for their own presentation reasons. They want to control the identity and consistency presentation at the expense of individual prints.
Originally Posted by steven_e007
I agree with many points here. But ultimately for me the issue is the way glass changes how a print appears. Unless you have the lighting just perfect on a print framed behind glass, the glass ruins it. It takes away your strong blacks and adds a hint of green to the image, as well as adds glare from lights. I know there's AR glass, but for the money it's not reasonable. I enjoy viewing my finest prints with a matting and holding in my hands. Every bit of detail, tonality, and print color comes across amazingly. It's funny, many prints are framed on my walls. Once in a while I will take them out and view them with just the mat and think 'wow, why can't I enjoy this view all the time??' I have no track lighting in my home, and am considering adding some. All prints are simply viewed with weak ambient room light or sunlight from outside.
For shows, prints go behind glass which offers protection obviously, but lighting has to be right as well to bring out all the print has to offer.
This whole thread seems to be arguing that making love to a beautiful woman is better with a fireplace, fur rug, glass of wine, candle light and soft music is superior to a lights out, smack down at midnight with an unwilling participant or a warm quickey before the fucking alarm goes off, will get no argument from me.
Of course life is not a Harlequin Romance and the closest most of us get to this sensuous experience is boffing our sons teacher in the back of her Mini Cooper after the PTA meeting in the parking lot of the overpriced private school we mistakingly thought would give our brat a leg up.
So while you lay there fondling your perfect print in front of the fireplace try to remember the rough and tumble world the rest of us live in, with frames and glass and smelly sprays and nail holes in the wall.