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View Poll Results: Should a universally recognized system for print identification and photographic process be institut

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  • Yes

    18 69.23%
  • No

    8 30.77%
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  1. #21

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    True. You can't ensure anything will last, but the fact is that we do know that SOME processes last longer than others. My concern is more with all the new stuff that is out there.

    As a consumer, if I see something that says "silver gelatin" I know I can expect a certain life-expectancy. But now we have Digital Platinum Glicee', Iris, LightJet, etc.

    And many of the new digital processes claim an INSANELY long life. I have heard 200+ YEARS.

    Meanwhile the Pt/Pd people say things like "well, if the paper is 100% acid-free, and things go well, expect 100 years...."

    Something is not adding up. If things are truthfully labeled, then people can make an informed choice.

    That said, people need to learn a bit about WHAT they are buying. Amazingly I have seen people plunk down hundreds of dollars for an inkjet print that came off an Epson printer. That is insane. It won't last very long, and quite honestly the picture itself sucked (it was very hoaky...)
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  2. #22

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    "Most people do not realize how many items in museums will never be even seen by the general public, or even being able to get close to them. The big reason is the security of the item and the fact that if you actually intend to *use* the item in any way, then it's life can be compromised"

    hmmm, then what is the point of having the item? Just so some elitist ring can have a peek at it every so often? If the general public (whichin most cases is the one supporting the museum either by taxes or donatons) cannot learn, admire, enjoy the items the museums has then those items might as well be non existent.

    Museums often remind me of greedy little children which want to have all the candies....and share only those they dont like...

  3. #23

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    Hello All,
    Along these lines Dr. Dusan Stulik from the Getty Institute gave a wonderful presentation at APIS this year about the identification of photographic processes. He stated the single most important thing the photographer could do is make sure the process is identified on the print for future, Pl/Pd, Carbon, Silver, etc. This was to make life easier for conservators in the future. At the Getty they now have ways to identify the process with out even touching the print and can tell exactly what was used in making the print.
    wm blunt

  4. #24

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    Jorge - Some museums are pretty good. The Center for Creative Photography here allows anyone off the street to sign up for a print-viewing. You can see original prints by Adams, Siskand, Frank, Ulesmann, etc.

    That said, they do pull stuff from public view. They just pulled all their Arbus prints because of concerns regarding conservation. And since conservation is insanely pricey, you have to be careful. They spent something like $25,000US to have a conservator come in, examine all their Edward Weston prints, digitize them (just in case), and then they could only preserve THREE....yes, THREE prints!

    So I can see why keeping stuff inthe nice humidity controlled room in the back can be tempting....

    At the same time, museums are about showing the public things.
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  5. #25
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Museums are also about preserving the legacy of human creativity for future generations and providing resources for scholarly research and publication. We might benefit from such research indirectly even if we are unable to stand in the physical presence of the objects themselves. Arguably, more people benefit from the contents of museums in this way than do by visiting the museums themselves.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
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  6. #26
    DKT
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge
    "Most people do not realize how many items in museums will never be even seen by the general public, or even being able to get close to them. The big reason is the security of the item and the fact that if you actually intend to *use* the item in any way, then it's life can be compromised"

    hmmm, then what is the point of having the item? Just so some elitist ring can have a peek at it every so often? If the general public (whichin most cases is the one supporting the museum either by taxes or donatons) cannot learn, admire, enjoy the items the museums has then those items might as well be non existent.

    Museums often remind me of greedy little children which want to have all the candies....and share only those they dont like...
    Well--I work for a free, state run museum so I take a little offense to this, seeing how 20,000 or so visitors come through our building a month. Not to mention the other 5 museums, and about 20 some odd *free* historical sites. There are alot of items on display and accessible to all sorts of people from the citizens of the state, to tourists--and researchers abroad. We just hit our 100th yr mark, and the state has been doing Wright Bros celebrations all year long as well. I think we actually do a great job in the system, despite funding problems to bring history to the public for free....all they have to do is make the effort to come out....

    What is the point? I dunno, I'm not a museum professional (no management degree) But in my "technical" position.... if I did have an answer I would say the point is in preserving whatever the selections are of the museums interest--they *all* have some sort of mission statement that outlines the core of their collecting policies.

    I think you're wrong though to call them "greedy children". What would be your plan if you had a growing, active collection of quarter to half million or more items that you were charged to legally protect & care for the rest of their lives & then on for the future? How do you decide which to show within limited resources--exhibit facilities, storage etc? We have everything from teeny tiny fragments from archaeology surveys to entire houses.vehicles, boats etc. textiles, currency, firearms & weaponry, mourning artifacts, technology (have a great collection of early television including a Baird on display now)--medical devices like iron lungs, baby lungs, x-ray machines etc. Uhm, we have the ENTIRE contents of buildings as well like a 20's era pharmacy with over 10,000 pieces. Or David Marshall Williams--aka "Carbine Williams"--workshop with thousand of items, machinery and prototype guns. Including the workshop itself which was moved across several counties and into the building by a crane some 40 yrs ago. textile looms, Then we have NASCAR-- a stock car from Richard Petty, moonshine stills, prohibition artifacts...then, civil war items, several hundred flags, pottery, reiligous objects, Native Amercian pieces. Practially everything that can be associated with some form of the state's history is being collected.

    So who decides what is displayed? There's only so much space and regardless of what you think--there is no bottomless pit of money in museums.

    One thing that pops to mind--is documentation project of civil war era battle flags. The conservation treatments of these 120 some odd flags, comes to close to half million dollars. The flags need to be conserved prior to being photographed--for the most part they're so fragile they can't even be displayed. They live in storage. Some of the only images of them are slides and negs almost 50 yrs old. This is what a patron would get if they ordered a print-very few would be able to actually arrange a viewing. There are many projects just like this--in a holding pattern for funding. The money is there to stabilize them, but not to the point of displaying them or in some cases even getting them out of storage.

    My experience has been that what is displayed is often tied in with exhibitry..Which probably accounts for very little in terms of what places might actually hold. A way to make it accessible is for the records to move online--with some sort of access that way, or to go through publications that can target in more detail a certain area. Then, some items are just boring for lack of better word. How many spoons do you need to show, when a collection has 8000 spoons in it? Believe me--I ask this question when I have to shoot 25 chairs that are all *exactly* the same. I spend days shooting items that are almost *exactly* the same to my layman's eyes--but to a curator or history buff they're one of a kind. I shot nothing but buttons from uniforms for some researcher in England a few years ago--I shot front & backs of buttons for a guide book on collecting. Or how bout this--we're wrapping up a 4 color book on antebellum furniture & cabinet maker shop--shot 4000 or so sheets of film on it. I've had to shoot wardrobes that were completely taken apart & show the joints, saw marks & kerfs etc--then put back together. Had to shoot hand-forged hardware details etc.

    You just cannot show everything, but someday you may get around to it through support of an exhibit--maybe not even in your lifetime. It's important to select items for preservation, but you can't save everything and you can't show it either. There's not enough money, space or time.

    KT

    Opinions expressed in this message may not represent the policy of my agency.E-Mail to and from me, in connection with the transaction of public business, is subject to the North Carolina Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties.

  7. #27
    DKT
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Kennedy
    That said, they do pull stuff from public view. They just pulled all their Arbus prints because of concerns regarding conservation. And since conservation is insanely pricey, you have to be careful. They spent something like $25,000US to have a conservator come in, examine all their Edward Weston prints, digitize them (just in case), and then they could only preserve THREE....yes, THREE prints!

    So I can see why keeping stuff inthe nice humidity controlled room in the back can be tempting....

    At the same time, museums are about showing the public things.
    No kidding--the early stages of this flag project cost about twice that--to get estimates. There's one flag alone that costs a bit more than 50K to conserve. It's basically a box of carefully housed scraps of fabric now. The conservation work is akin to actually painstakingly reconstructing the flag based off original documentation and detective work for lack of a better word. We had a textile conservator on staff (we have a furniture conservator and 2 labs--textiles and furniture. The textiles conservator position is vacant now...)--at any rate. What they would do is to stitch by stitch rework this piece to a stretcher of crepaline (forgive my spelling)--it would take hundreds of hours to do one item.

    We're working on the propsoal of a potential exhibit that would be open to the public to show a conservation project in the workings--these 6x10 foot paintings on fabric rolls--they call them "panoramas"--they're very thin fabric with painted Biblical scenes from a depression era traveling tent show. They were donated to the museum last year and have been stored in an outbuilding and an attic for decades...there are about 120 or so, and only 2 panels have been unrolled in the past 60-70 yrs. Right now, they're fragile--still rolled up.

    They had a conservator advise them in addition to checking around with similar projects at other museums. The textiles can be only unrolled at a 20 degree angle--so basically they must work flat. They plan on building a scaffold about 15 feet above--for us to shoot down with a 4x5 camera (plus 6 speedo heads, and 3 packs). The whole rig is wired up for an AV component and the project will be on display for 12-15 months.

    Then comes the conservation-- they will construct a cradle of sorts to unroll and support these (6 total) and work from one edge as they unroll at a time--underneath this scaffolding. All they'll do is to *clean* and record each panel--and do a condition report more or less. Then, when all is said and done--they'll have to make decisions about whether to treat the whole thing or parts or if it's even feasible--and then deal with the ethics of possibly dismantling the rolls if only part can be saved. Since they haven't been unrolled in years, and they've only actually had the chance to see one or two because they're so fragile, it's hard to say what they look like. OTOH--if there's only one chance to do it, you have to do it right.

    The Smithsonian, I think, had a similar project on a large scale with Old Glory--where they made a scaffold with "belly boards" so the conservators could lie a couple of inches abouve the flag and work bit by bit. Our set up needs to be open on either side, so the plan is to to have a large catwalk type scaffold above. preliminary estimates are over 100K before conservation...


    Of course, this is in the proposal stages....hasn't happened yet. There are competing projects, and funding is tough. They could also just be put in storage. If people really think, everything should be displayed--then they should come forward with the money. Sorry, to be this way, but it's just the way it is.

    KT

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  8. #28

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    True. In some ways conservation is almost like archaeology! Especially in the example you gave. I remember seeing a piece on the restoration of Holbein's "The Ambassadors", a 15-16th c. oil on wood work at the National Gallery in London.

    The piece had faded, cracked, warped, and simply just started to go south. The wood it was painted on is not a single piece but planks held together. So they had umpteen sections all deciding to go their own way. The paint was just messed up by sun, heat, humidity, etc.

    Over, I think, two or three years they went over the whole thing with cotton swabs, 3 bristle brushes, and magnifying glasses to fix it. Just like an archeologist slowly brushing away at the detritus of eons or having to piece together thousands of tiny shards.

    With that in mind, I understand why so many collections are paranoid (rightly so) about too much wear and tear on their pieces. It is much cheaper to keep something in the dark than to fix it later.
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