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civilized ku # 408-09 ~ just one word (there's a great future in it)

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Fence, red signs, man on cellphone ~ Old Montreal, CA. • click to embiggen
Yesterday, I mentioned that, creative inspiration input-wise, I was near bursting at the seams and, as an example, when thinking about this entry, one of the very first things that came to mind was this short clip.

Why that clip? Well, simply put, this entry is about plastic or plasticity. Something that, back in Ben's and Mr. McGuire's day, was headed for a great future in the arts.

During my recent conversation with Joel Meyerowitz (at the Pioneers Of Color exhibit), I asked him about his feelings regarding that which was his former print medium - the venerable C-print, aka-chromogenic print - versus his current print making media of choice, the pigmented ink print medium, aka - inkjet prints. I prefaced my query with the statement that I had long admired his early - 1970s-1990s - C-prints. Not the pictures (although I certainly do admire the images), but, specifically, the quality (look and feel) of the prints as beautiful objects in and of themselves.

His answer was very interesting. Joel said that he considered his early C-prints to be like daguerreotypes of the color printing art/craft. They were, in his words, perfect indices of the era from which they came. In fact, he had been told that the Pioneers of Color exhibit was perfectly indexical.

At this point, he felt compelled to state that the words "indices" and "indexical" are, in fact, artspeak - a language with which he is not particularly comfortable and of which he is not particularly fond.

Nevertheless, moving on, he went on to state that now, with the ability to make HQ scans of his early color negatives (especially his 8×10 stuff) coupled with the superior color gamut of inkjet printing devices/materials, his earlier work has revealed such an expanded range of colors (and color subtleties) that the world's plasticity is revealed in a much more compelling and detailed manner*.

Joel waxed nearly poetic about the color that "was in the early materials but that, even with the best printing practices then available, nobody knew was there."

So, he didn't exactly say that C-prints were crap - prints that he also noted, "if I were lucky enough to sell one back then, well, how long they would last was anyone's guess" - but he left no doubt about the fact that the future is here and that, with the medium of photography, it's all about plastic.

FYI, here's an interesting bit about the large pigmented ink prints hanging in the PoC exhibit - when the subject of print longevity (200+ years for pigmented ink prints) came up, I asked if that was the reason why those prints were not exhibited under glass. Joel said that while they were not under glass, they were, in fact, protected by a surface laminate.

*that the world's plasticity is revealed in a much more compelling and detailed manner as the result of scanning early 8×10 color negative is something that I discovered when, a few years ago, I started scanning some of my (early 1980s) 8×10 color negatives - examples here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Posted on Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 11:22AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | Comments1 Comment

Reader Comments (1)

Man, as soon as saw the title of this post I was thinking "The Graduate"

Your second example is the first entry I ever of your blog, and it got me interested. It got me thinking about what art photography could be. Especially the contrast between the sedate river and trees and the junkyard.

March 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDennis Allshouse

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