There are so many puns I could have used for the title of this blog post but I’ve been a good boy and refrained.
What you are about to read has been a long time coming. During my digital printing career, the best part of fourteen years now, there’s been one issue that’s bugged me throughout and just doesn’t want to go away.
In fact, it only seems to become more prevalent.
It occurred to me that the best thing to do in this situation would be to empower you, the art world, with the appropriate information and let you decide for yourselves.
So, here’s what’s been bugging me, along with what I know about it:
The word Giclée.
In the art world, Giclée has become a widely adopted term to describe inkjet printing of the highest quality — so much so that it’s even in my computer’s dictionary.
In galleries, websites and portfolios around the globe you’ll see it misspelled and mispronounced like no other as people try to get comfortable with this tricky word.
Even Photogravure and Daguerrotype (names for other processes) seem easier to say than Giclée.
Archival Pigment Print (Detail) — ‘O Hanami’ by Paul Kenny
A Little Bit of History…
The original intentions behind the use of giclée are totally innocent and honest.
Back in the Nineties, a famous established American printer called Jack Duganne was at the bleeding edge of digital inkjet printing technology.
In making his beautiful prints, Jack was among the very first people to offer inkjet printing commercially to the discerning fine art world.
But he needed a name for his process, a name that would sound elegant and really pop…
“The French language sounds good”, thought Jack (who told me this himself many years ago), so he picked up an English-French dictionary and looked up the word for squirt or spurt — after all, that’s what happens when the printheads fire ink onto paper, right?
And, lo, Giclée was born and we’ve battled with its spelling and pronunciation ever since.
Archival Pigment Print (Detail) — From ‘North Northwest Beginnings’ by Julian Calverley
What’s Wrong with Giclée…?
It sounds nice doesn’t it? And, in a way, it is.
Unfortunately, you only have to speak to a Frenchman (or, as happened recently, a Swiss friend) about your Giclée process to be sure of a drenching as a result of the coffee they’ve just spat all over you…
Why? Because, and there’s no easy way to say this, in French slang giclée means ejaculation.
In his first week working with me, Antoine (a wonderful French assistant) saw an email drop into his inbox entitled ‘Giclée Print Order’.
Through his tears of laughter, strong French accent and slightly broken English, he finally composed himself and managed to utter the now legendary words:
“Hey, Man, we’re going to be really tired after making these prints, no…?”
So, Which Name Should We Use..?
If you’ve ever worked with me or downloaded my Price List, you’ll know that I only ever use Giclée in brackets like this:
(sometimes known as Giclée)
Digital Inkjet Prints of the Highest Quality doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so I like to call them what they are:
Archival Pigment Prints (APP)
Take note, however, that I only use this name because that’s what they are — archival and made with pigment inks.
Be sure of your choice of paper and ink before you adopt the name to describe your own printing methods.
The light show was beginning to fade already but it still looked sensational as it receded. I managed to capture these images while the performance played out:
Gentle scenes from the Holy Island causeway as we arrived...
Vertical shafts of light began to appear once more...
...and the sky appeared to fold and crease like fabric above the glow of Berwick upon Tweed.
In all honesty, the intensity of green captured by my camera surprised me. However, it seemed to match up with the photographs of others.
When watching this beautiful show, I didn’t see green, I saw a bluey-silvery-grey. I thought that reciprocity failure might have come into play, so I tried some very short exposures.
Yes, the images were very under-exposed but the green colour still prevailed. Even the ‘quick and dirty’ capture made at ISO 3200 (the image at the top of this post) immediately showed the Aurora-green piercing through the urban haze.
It seems that more intense displays further north, in and around locations such as Tromsø, literally drench the surroundings in a glorious green light.
Thankfully, at times, we were able to see the green for ourselves during pinpricks of higher intensity.
Indeed, as we were arriving, I’ve already mentioned the great slabs of green light standing tall like huge, futuristic, architectural pillars in the sky.
So, this sparked a further spine-tingling question in my mind: When the intensity levels of the Aurora are reduced further South, why is that we observe a bluey-silvery-grey colour, yet we point a digital camera at the Aurora and the intense green prevails?
Is the camera able to render information that we cannot perceive at these lower intensities? I’m sure there will be answers to this but I simply enjoyed pondering them while standing in that icy cold theatre.
I expect Professor Brian Cox would know the answer. If you know, feel free to enlighten us by leaving a comment in the box at the end of this post!
And so, the curtain gradually fell on the performance. The graceful, pulsing light faded away yet still lingered, maintaining a hold on us and making it very difficult to set off home.
The performance draws to a close with one last needle of brilliant light.
And let’s not forget the beautiful sky to the South, so dense that Orion (often obvious at this time of year) is almost lost among its neighbours:
Looking South, the stunning Northumberland night sky with Orion standing tall in the centre of the image.
Some say that viewing the Aurora Borealis is life-changing.
Would I agree? Yes, without a doubt.
I haven’t been able to shake the experiences of last night from my mind, not that I’ve wanted to.
Furthermore, it’s taken me most of the day in grabbed moments here and there to attempt to put those experiences into words.
I’m still not sure that I’ve succeeded.
As I put my boys to bed this evening, I peered North from the window once more. Nothing.
The Aurora Borealis was gone for the moment but I shall never look at the sky in the same way again, day or night.
Keen followers of this blog and my Twitter feed will know that I am very keen on the video clip below, the Aurora Borealis and Australis as seen from the International Space Station.
It seems appropriate to sign off from this post by leaving you with this beautiful footage…