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Author Topic: Do you hate archival lighting?  (Read 12908 times)
tom b
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« on: June 18, 2009, 09:50:49 PM »
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Recently I went to the Ricky Maynard exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Syney. Accompanying this exhibition was an exhibition of photographers that had influenced Maynard. This included Ansel Adams, Walker Evans, Mary Ellen Mark, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, W Eugene Smith and Paul Strand.

The most frustrating part of the exhibition was that it was presented with archival lighting. It just ruins an exhibition when you are looking at photographs in the dark. The Paul strand photogravures came off worst being 5x4 inch prints. They just seemed so dull in that light, I would love to see what large scanned prints made from his negatives would look like in decent lighting conditions.

The exhibition goes for three months. I think that I would prefer to have the lights turned up for half the exhibition time and for the prints to be locked in a box for the other half of the time.

Am I the exception or are there others of you out there that can't stand archival lighting?

Cheers,
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bill t.
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« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2009, 10:09:39 PM »
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Yes I hate it.  But I also understand it, sort of.  The real bottom line is, you are better off looking at good reproductions.  Think of the gallery experience as a sort of mystical pilgrimage.  But I would prefer maybe turning up the lights for 30 minutes a day, the time could be published.  Or only opening the gallery only 1 hour a day but at higher light levels.  Assuming the material was truly deserving.  Some curators get a little too worked up over this stuff, though admittedly terms of loaning sometimes tie their hands.

If you really want to see some of the those old prints in good light, go to a commercial gallery that specializes in them.  For instance Andrew Smith Gallery in Santa Fe shows Adams, Weston, and far older stuff in very decent lighting.
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2009, 10:29:18 PM »
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I've seen a few Strand exhibits under archival lighting recently. i didn't mind. They are little gems. Two pointers, give your eyes plenty of time to adjust and/or.....something that helps allot, bring a small black window mat to look through. Seriously it works.
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Kirk

Kirk Gittings
Architecture and Landscape Photography
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LIGHT+SPACE+STRUCTURE (blog)
tom b
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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2009, 01:03:45 AM »
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Quote from: bill t.
If you really want to see some of the those old prints in good light, go to a commercial gallery that specializes in them.  For instance Andrew Smith Gallery in Santa Fe shows Adams, Weston, and far older stuff in very decent lighting.

As far as I know there really isn't a market in Australia for this type of gallery. You might be able to see some Australian photographers in places like the Josef Lebovic Gallery but I haven't seen overseas photographers represented. This is why I mentioned the MOCA exhibition in the coffee corner.

I remember seeing some very good photography in New York when I was there 30 years ago including a Cartier-Bresson retrospective all with good lighting. Unfortunately it is unlikely I will be back there any time soon. Taking a trip to China may be a higher priority.

It seems that this trend to archival lighting is a recent thing. They had a Leonardo Da Vinci drawings exhibition at the AGNSW and you nearly needed night goggles to see the works.

Let there be light!

Cheers,
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bill t.
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2009, 11:16:37 AM »
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Maybe archival lighting is a fad that will go away.  But I fear it has worked itself into the consciousness of those who write contracts for inter-museum art loans so expect to see more of it.  Something really annoying about it, you make all that effort to get to the place only to be confronted by one last, insurmountable, murky gotcha.  The stuff of frustrated dreams.  Terry Gilliam's film "Brazil" explored similar down-sized, deteriorated paradigms.

I've noticed that certain useful plumbing devices at the shopping mall are now able to recognize one's presence and departure.  Maybe art display venues could adopt a similar mechanism where upon sensing a viewer the lighting would ramp gracefully up a few stops, then down again to archival levels upon the viewer's departure, possibly accompanied by a subtle flushing sound.  A really clever version could use a lower maximum level if it sensed high traffic, and higher level for lower traffic rates.  Never happen.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2009, 11:18:28 AM by bill t. » Logged
sergio
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« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2009, 11:36:17 AM »
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What is the sole point of making photographs if nobody can see them. What is then, I ask myself, the purpose of the art itself? Is it so precious that we can't afford to see it? There is little difference between a blank piece of paper and a photograph in the dark. It needs light to exist. The basic essence of photography is overlooked here.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2009, 11:38:55 AM by sergio » Logged

bill t.
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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2009, 12:22:16 PM »
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I guess this means all the discussions we've had here about print evaluation lighting is nonsense.  It you want your work to be seen in The Future, evaluate your prints under a flashlight held 10 feet away, covered with a layer of Kleenex.
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