Books are a poor representation of the original print. However, I believe the reproductions in books are better then what you can see on a wall in many cases due to how the presentation is designed. I guess I don't see the point in exhibiting photographs if the viewer cannot see the photograph in the way it was intended to be viewed. How can one gain an appreciation for the work in that way? I don't know if it is such a bad thing to be able to see a digital facsimile of the actual print. We would at least be able to see detail and tonality that the photographer intended the viewer to see but is often unviewable due to the lighting parameters.
If one considers painting, then you do lose a tremendous amount in the translation to a digital print. For one thing brush strokes and how the pigment is applied (brush, knife etc) cannot be replicated and for most works that is a key element. But consider a digital print created right after Mark Rothko had completed each work. We would be able to see a much closer representation of the colors he used. That would be interesting considering the materials he used in his pigments are causing pretty rapid decay and fading of his works.
I guess this is getting wildly off topic from the original post about digitizing the Evans prints. But I think we are going to see digital used more and more as a presentation technique that falls somewhere between book reproductions and the actual piece hanging in a gallery or museum.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
Very often the very "tricks" that artists use are part of the concept of the art. Van Gogh's brushstrokes, are the equivelant of Winogrand's tilted horizons. You simply cannot say concentrate on content and ignore technique. Without technique (process) there is no art. It's all one. Nothing is causeless. Process causes content.
Originally Posted by per volquartz
Severian- Autarch of Urth
When Winogrand died didn't he have 10 or 12,000 rolls of film undeveloped?
These photographs are forever lost to us as "Gary Winogrand Photographs" because the process was left incomplete. He never selected those that he would have considered content worthy. No one else can or could do Winogrand's editing.
The last time I saw an EW print that was made by his son it was priced at , believe, $1200.00. What would an "original" print of #30 be worth if it was verifiably made by EW? Why? Possibly because the process of making the work was complete. EW had made it . Not CW or BW. Process is more than choosing dektol or amidol. There is no great inherent value in the content of #30 (formalism) . The value is in the process that was seen to the finish by the artist.
Severian- Autarch of Urth
It is certainly possible that an Edward Weston made print could turn out to be a less successful realization of his vision, than the $1,200.00 print made by one of his sons. While you might rather collect the Edward Weston print, you might rather have on your wall the print made by one of his sons.
Originally Posted by severian
It is equally possible that the Edward Weston print would be far better.
The involvement of someone other than the original photographer as printer adds an artistic sensability into the process - maybe for the better, or maybe for the worse - and the resulting print is a different artistic statement.
I know that when I print one of my own photographs, it is not a rare experience to discover that what I end up emphasizing in the editing and printing process is different than the result I envisioned when I took the photograph. I would guess that is a phenomenon experienced by Edward Weston and Gerry Winogrand too.
The printing process involves both craft and art. A print that is created using lower quality materials or techniques will be less successful. A print which is created by someone with poor artistic vision will also be less successful.
I would rather see an inkjet reproduction prepared by a skilled and experienced printer who uses with care and artistic insight good quality digital materials and techniques, then a silver gelatin print prepared by a printer with poor technique and poor artistic vision.
Of course, what I would prefer to see is a silver gelatin print prepared by a skilled and visionary printer. I believe that skillful use of analogue media gives the best results.
If that (analogue) printer was either the original photographer, or working under the direction of the original photographer, then it is probably (but not necessarily) the case that the print will evidence a continuity of artistic vision, right from setup, through exposure and processing and printing.
Certainly it is important to identify the fact that the process used for the reproductions can materially change the result, and cause that result to be radically inferior than the original.
Going back to the original subject of the thread, I'd like to see original Walker Evans prints, but if I can't see them, I wouldn't mind seeing big Walker Evans inkjet prints, if they have been well prepared and presented. I can enjoy experiencing the images, and can mentally compensate for the means of reproduction.
My (far less than $1,200.00) worth.
Totally agree with Matt here...
Originally Posted by MattKing
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I understand what Matt is trying to say ... however, I prefer not to encourage galleries to continue showing ink jet prints, so I would just leave.
Originally Posted by Dave Wooten
[size=2]"The smallest modification of tonality affects structure. Some things have to be rather large, but elegance is the presentation of things in their minimum dimensions..."
Originally Posted by HerrBremerhaven
General Aesthetics, 1979[/size]
EW ,CW, BW
Edward Weston's sons could not make a more successful realization of Edward Westons vision because they are not Edward Weston.
Originally Posted by MattKing
OP: Another perspective
I started this thread. Obviously, I have a preference for the darkroom over the inkjet, otherwise I wouldn't be here. But I am surprised by the amount of anger directed at this exhibit in this thread, and even directed at the New York Times for reporting it. I thought the review was uncommonly thoughtful, both with respect to the exhibiton and the nature of photography generally.
I disagree with much of what has been written here. As for the sanctity of Walker Evans's images, the importance of the medium and the size of the prints: You all are forgetting the circumstances of their creation. Evans was shooting for the Farm Services Administration and, for a summer, for Fortune Magazine (with James Agee). Evans did not even own the copyright to his photos. FSA could print them mural-size if they wanted. (And, indeed, Depression agencies like FSA and WPA often did make mural-sized public art.) As for the sanctity of silver gelatin, Evans shot with the expectation that the photographs would be printed in books or magazines, or presented in other mass media. Fortune and FSA weren't in the business of selling limited editions of silver gelatin prints.
Evans shot his images with the expectation (or, at least, the hope) that his photographs would be widely seen, in whatever media his masters chose to present them. I, for one, think Evans would be tickled to have large-scale reproductions of his photographs of poor Southerners on view in the Manhattan lobby gallery of a Swiss bank. Doesn't such an exhibit reach exactly the audience he had hoped to reach in Fortune Magazine? (Which, by the way, rejected the series as inappropriate for its readership.)
And, as bad as you all think inkjet prints are, can they be any worse than the tiny crappy versions reproduced in countless copies of Let Us New Praise Famous Men? As between those small blurry facsimiles and the large-scale inkjet prints now on display, which do you think Evans would have preferred as a medium for the public to encounter his work?
Knowing a fair amount about Walker Evans from reading four or five books about him and his work, I think he'd be absolutely thrilled that his work was still being exhibited in any manner, shape, or form. He was one of the least technically oriented photographers around, he didn't do his own printing for most of his career, and he sold all of his negatives that he owned late in life, which he had to realize was going to result in reprints of them by many different people in many different forms. If he didn't care about that with the negatives he owned, why would he care about these prints from negatives he didn't own?
Originally Posted by Sparky
It's kind of funny how this NY Times article is viewed as being pro or con digital depending on the type of forum. Over in the Yahoo digital black and white print forum it's viewed as being anti-digital. Here it seems to be viewed as anti-traditional.