the print as an object

by julie posted August 29, 2007

These days most of my interaction with other photographers takes place on blogs, flickr, and discussion forums, so the images are usually also online. But this weekend I took part in an exhibition – an open air, rent a section of park fence kind of exhibition, but still, it got my pictures out in front of the general public.

The really interesting thing to see besides the photography itself was the approach people took to display. Some were in fairly standard mount/frame combos but others went for something different and it really caught my eye. There were the block mounts – usually a set of two or more images, not necessarily printed any larger than 5×7, applied directly to a block of what looked like MDF, maybe an inch or so thick, with black painted sides. It really let the pictures speak for themselves, and pulled them together as a group very well. It’s a very modern looking approach, although I see a possibility to play with the interaction of contemporary and traditional and come up with something really interesting in there.

I saw lots of deep box frames of different colours, with and without mounts, mostly suited to very graphic, simple images mounted on the back of the frame but set forward using foam board or something similar. It’s another one where you can bring sets together, even in a single frame.

Something in particular really blew me away, although it’s only going to work with a certain type of image. I saw a picture printed onto glass, that was set forward in a deep box frame with a white background – and the image was almost projected onto the back of the frame when the sun shone through the glass at the front. Just gorgeous. Doing some research, it would seem that you can print onto a transfer material that can be applied to glass – or even wood, letting the ink embed into the surface.

Someone also asked, if my pale pictures were actually printed onto silk because they looked so fine and delicate. It was only matte paper in fact, but it really got me thinking. Imagine something printed onto silk and then either sandwiched between two sheets of glass/perspex/acrylic or somehow stretched, like a canvas, over a frame or suspended like a scroll? The double glass thing would also look fantastic with an image printed on deckle edged paper I thought. When someone suggested I alter the straight edges of the print so they don’t clash with the rough edge of the paper, it occurred to me to ‘distress’ them with sandpaper – and all of a sudden something clicked and the prospect of making a final object that has an element of hand craft as well as the foundation of the image I took just seemed perfect, and so exciting. It’s a feeling I don’t get, when considering the prospect of uploading my images to a website.

I know I’ve blogged about this before – about the ‘craft’ element of photography, alternative printing and the likes. I know I haven’t managed to put any of it into play yet. But surely when something comes round a second – or third – time and the idea is hugely inspiring, there’s got to be something in it worth exploring…?

4 Responses to the print as an object

  1. Julie, I think that it is absolutely worth exploring! It’s part of the whole process from the concept to the finished print. I’m on vacation now and in a place, Carmel, California, that has more galleries than restaurants! I’ve seen some really interesting displays, as well as some interesting prices! :-)

    I’d say, go for it! :-)

  2. Julie –

    Yes. Although photography has been limited/constrained in the past, that doesn’t mean it needs to always be so. I think new presentation models are absolutely on the way and you should jump the gun and be out there on this. I’ll be right behind you. . Really.

  3. Well guys, I did some playing around and I have some lovely little 6×4’s on deckle edged handmade paper postcards now that look fabulous on a black background :) Next up, glass transfers and silk!

  4. Hi Julie,
    I am very interested in how your experiment with glass transfers turns out. I am also a fan of deckle edges. I think a big part of photography is lost on the net because of this very aspect – final presentation of the print. You can certainly get an idea if someone goes through the trouble to photograph the final presentation, but nothing like seeing it in person!

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