I’ve been opposed to the “jewelry” aspect of photography for a long time, a phenomenon that occurs with myriad activities; golf, cooking, automobiles, pocket knives, all things that require specific trappings. With photography, you initially just want something better for the sake of the image but it nevertheless can morph into wanting shiny status symbols, or merely well made items, probably a mix of many things but certainly not… “the image is the thing.” Hence my quote from Steichen. I mention this because I’m acquiring new equipment and as I’m justifying it to myself I can see the glimmerings of “new” and “shiny” peeking through.
When I started to photograph seriously I couldn’t afford equipment to meet my level of seeing. In Vietnam, circa 1967, I was able to get equipment that was “state of the art” at that time and I was OK with it for a while, a long while actually.
In the ‘70s and ‘80s I regularly printed to 20” x 24” from Hasselblad and Rollei grayscale and color negative films. As film began to slide away the novelty of instant feedback and almost unlimited exposures was tempered by the upper limit of enlargement, a condition resulting from the nature of the process; chip size, digital artifacts and file size. Of course I could have printed larger but coming from a conventional photographic background the image quality didn’t measure up. I’ve seen those limits give way and envy of the larger size became a possession of mine after a series of singular events which helped me place the need to adjust the scale of what I do.
Larry Walker is one of the pre-eminent artists in our area. Larry works with collage, mixed media… large. Being around his creations made me start to think of scale and its importance to his work and my work as well. He uses elements in his pieces that are actual size, recognizable elements like brick and street signs. The illusions created from his method relate in a way that places the viewer in the scene as most pieces do not, as a participant. As you start to take the scale of a piece for granted suddenly you encounter an element that can be unusually arresting because it comes from Larry’s mind and eye and may or may not have a counterpart in the real world, Mondrian notwithstanding. I have had other experiences at venues of exposition, museums and galleries, where I could analyze how the chosen scale made me feel and why a piece was dependent upon being seen that way, large. And I have seen work, a lot of it, that was big because being large was its only reason for being.
So I am beginning to make something similar happen, acquiring new equipment, printing larger, choosing a different point of view. And I may start to manipulate a few of the images to make very subtle alterations to real world depiction. I’m excited. I realize the effect won’t be realized on the web. I hope to find a venue as the work progresses. For now… they’re out there to be seen. I must go find them.