Friday, July 2, 2010

Photos, great and small

In my experience as a photographer, I have waffled between being a black and white darkroom purist and messing around with larger digital prints. The work I did in the darkroom focused on 4x5 contact prints, which felt precious and significant. Small photographs force the viewer to lean waaay in to see the details, practically putting their nose to the glass to get close enough. I like that because there's a certain amount of focus and concentration needed to view the work, and you can be more assured that your viewer will really look. I saw an exhibit a while back that really exemplified this, but of course I can't remember who or where. It was an early 20th century photographer who printed everything very small, usually 2x2 or smaller. Ideas?

This first photo is a series of prints I did mostly on location at the Whetstone Inn in VT. These nine prints hung in the Vermont Center for Photography for a month as part of a group show. It's tiny and hard to see the photos so you can't steal them, but trust me, they're really neat up close.
On the other hand, large panels of texture and colour can also pull a viewer in, but in a different way. A vast field of detail will make them feel as if they're floating away, swimming deeply in the content. The viewer is engaged in the print, but in a more meditative way, simply enjoying the patterns and colours. My interest in Rothko fits under this category.

Here's a quick example from my senior thesis show. I interspersed photos that represented memories with tight frames full of pattern or texture to explore how people observe and remember things. Unfortunately the Epson 7800 (I think) didn't print a lot bigger than this, as much as I would have loved a 5x6' print.

Anyone have good examples for either of these?

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