I know I lightly touched on this topic before, but it seems to keep coming up. In this age of technology, we have access to really great tools that can take art from one level and transform it to something magnificent. I also feel that in this time of technology, we are losing what makes art so special. Recently, I pieced together a print portfolio. There is something special about being able to physically hold someone’s art instead of sharing it with them via computer screen. We look at screens all day. There’s a good amount of tweaking and work that goes into making a solid print and it’s an art that is almost forgotten by the general public.
I never really thought about it until I attended an artist talk at Jordan Faye’s old gallery on Light Street in Federal Hill last year. The artist was photographer Edwin Remsberg, a long time mentor of my own and my intern guru last spring. The talk was about Edwin’s series titled Diapothèque (I encourage you to view it, despite it not being physically available to see in person at the moment). The photographs were of nude women laying on plexiglass. The point of view was photographed from underneath, giving the women a contorted, flat appearance with their skin pushed against the glass. The prints were done in a way that they were large, vertical and had a layer of plexiglass over them. Photographs shown in this way have such a larger impact than just viewing them on a computer screen in high resolution. This brings me to my ultimate question,
Why have we sacrificed the print as a physical object to the internet when the print gives so much more of an impact?
Is it because we have become lazy to make prints or to go view them? Or is it because people so often share things through social media that the internet is the best way to share things we like with others? Does anyone else ever think about this? Even magazines and newspapers are slimming down their sizes in order to go fully online. Newsweek just published its last print issue last week. Andrew bought it for me for $7.
So, how does this correlate to film? Well, before digital scans and digital printing, film photographs were printed in the darkroom. They required an enlarger, photo paper and precision to make a nice, sharp, clean print. No print was exactly the same, they were all done by hand. This doesn’t go without saying that digital also requires precision and tweaking in order to get a true color rendition from screen to your hands just through different methods.
Polaroids are the best example I can think of to demonstrate my point further. People who aren’t photographers by trade even relish in the idea of having something physical from their memories; a cute, little Polaroid print. People put them on their mirrors, clip them on their car visors, put them in their wallets, or even tape them to school books and binders. The fact that a physical object, one that you can hold and carry, can come from a photograph still grabs ahold of people.
What do you think? Do you think that prints are an object on their own, a separate art entirely? Or do you think that prints and online viewing are interchangeable?