Walter Benjamin’s essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ has conditioned the way we think about photography and reproduction but it cannot account for the new paradigm shift that is taking place in a digital age of fast computers and big data. Benjamin observed that mechanical reproduction of a work of art represented something new. He was writing the first version of this essay in 1936, almost one hundred years after the accepted date for the discovery of photography and at a time when mechanical reproduction was well established and shaping aesthetic and political thinking. He observed that works of art exist in their specific time and place and that they reflect the ways they have been valued and looked after. To articulate this materiality he turned to the nebulous and quasi-religious idea of an aura. To prove its existence he could have commissioned electrographs or other methods to visualise this invisible force as a ‘figure’ but in the age of digital reproduction originality and authenticity may not be as in separable as Benjamin had assumed. The digital revolution is moving so fast that it is hard to foresee its many implications. Only a few years ago the focus was on virtual technologies—now the physical has taken centre stage. In this physical environment photography is no longer just producing images, but making maps and charting previously unimagined destinations.
Focusing on Form – The Future of Photography
By: Adam Lowe
Created by Joe Hamilton and supported by The Moving Museum, Indirect Flights is an online work comprised of a sprawling landscape of layered images. Raw materials, satellite images, organic textures, brush strokes and architectural fragments are all blended together into a dense panorama extending in all directions.
As you pan across the terrain like Google Maps the layers move at different speeds giving the illusion of depth, constantly changing what is hidden and exposed. This shifting composition is an attempt to depict contemporary landscape, in a moment defined by the proliferation of digital technologies and the global transportation of bodies, commodities and goods – Joe Hamilton.
The act of making a copy can be perceived as an act of homage or something less benign – Adam Lowe discusses the importance of copies.
By: David Chow
My interest in multi-layer photographic printing techniques was sparked 2 years ago when I viewed a number of Irving Penn’s platinum prints at the V&A print room in London. At that time I had been printing in platinum for a number of years and was surprised at the density of blacks Penn was achieving, not only this but his prints had an almost three dimension quality to them. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about him and his printing technique, little did I know it would take me on a journey of discovery into other fascinating multi-layer printing techniques.
Irving Penn was one of the finest platinum printers of recent times and created some of the most exquisite, complex, valuable and sort after platinum prints. He was well respected within photographic community and world at large first and foremost for being a great photographer, however he is also championed as leading the revival of the platinum printing process in the late 1960’s/70’s since becoming dormant for over 50 years.
The book entitled ‘Platinum Prints’ by Sarah Greenough, gives a comprehensive account of his life as a platinum printer. In her essay on Penn she describes how in the early 1960’s he was obsessed with this alternative printing process and devoted many years of his life to mastering the technique. His initial results using a single layered approach to platinum printing were in his own words as being ‘less than satisfactory’. Through extensive research and testing he was able ‘to replicate the process, but not in spirit.’ However in an interview for between Greenough and Penn in 2003 he told her of the moment he had an epiphany, she states;
Rafa Gershenson Rachewsky describes the large scale flat-bed ink-jet printing process he works with that uniquely allows the creation of multi layered images – used for, as examples, profound photographic image printing and skins for 3D surfaces – where the custom designed printer gives the opportunity of managing not only depth and colour but also tonality.
After six years of continual work the flatbed printer was completely rebuilt by Dwight Perry in 2013. It was originally built around an Epson 9600 Pro. This printer is now totally obsolete and spare parts no longer exist. We looked for any existing printers that we could find in good condition which we could strip down for spares. While this was going on Dwight was building the new flatbed which would be larger (150 x 400cm), higher resolution and with a number of modifications that would significantly improve the quality of our prints onto gesso and other surfaces.