It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to my 100th blog post. Two years ago, almost to the day, this blog was conceived and I hope you continue to enjoy my missives.
How fitting that this post should coincide with the completion of my largest ever project — a large print edition for the London 2012 Olympics.
Way back in December 2010, I introduced you to Rachael Clewlow’s infographics but at the time we were not in a position to divulge their true purpose and context.
As a brief reminder, I scanned two of Rachael’s acrylic artworks and reproduced them at actual size.
A year later, I was given the go ahead to make a total of 730 prints to grace the walls of the Hilton London Wembley hotel, forming part of the Olympic Village.
The trusty combination of my HP Designjet Z3200′s and Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308 won through yet again…
Most days, for five minutes or so during the late afternoon, I stand at my studio window — coffee in hand — watching the sun descend over the city.
On one of those occasions, I pondered how far the framed prints might stretch end-to-end.
Of course, with the power of Google Earth at our fingertips these days, it didn’t take long to come up with the answer:
What’s more, following a fortuitous meeting with one of the top brass at the newly conceived Sky Tyne and Wear, it also didn’t take long for the media to come knocking…
To complete my very own Olympic event, my machines would be in action for ten hours every working day for over six weeks.
Of course, once the pieces were printed, there was still work to be done. Each print had to be trimmed to an exact size and, between me and my Rotatrim, the 4500 cuts were executed perfectly.
Wary of all the hard work that could soon be undone, I also had a custom hod constructed. Designed to carry around one hundred prints at a time, this simple vehicle certainly earned its keep when it came to safely carrying completed work to the framer, Bruce Reid, downstairs at Unit 19.
Every now and then, Rachael would pop in to sign the latest batch of prints.
It would take her several hours to complete each session but, with the aid of multiple cups of tea, she soon got used to writing her name hundreds of times…
These prints have now left my studio and I have to say that, even though 2012 remains steadfastly relentless, there’s a part of me that misses Rachael’s work passing through my printers.
I was often asked by passers-through whether or not I tired of seeing the prints. “Not at all!” was my consistent answer — I feel sincerely honoured to have played a small part in the London 2012 Olympics and all in the comfort of my home-from-home in Newcastle upon Tyne.
I would like to extend my deepest thanks to the artist, Rachael Clewlow, and her gallerist, Andrea Harari, for their help and enthusiasm and for bringing the London 2012 Olympics to Jack Lowe Studio.
Rachael’s exhibition, The Process, is showing at Jaggedart in London’s Devonshire Street from 19th April to 12th May.
Whenever I hear Chris Burden’s name, my ears prick up.
He’s an artist who, to my mind at least, never fails to be interesting through his engaging ideas and fresh angles on life.
If you have a moment, it’s well worth taking a look at this project. As Locus+ describe:
“Commissioned to coincide with the Tall Ships Race, 2005, Ghost Ship involved the construction and development of a crewless, self-navigating sailing boat, which undertook its maiden voyage between Fair Isle, Scotland and Newcastle upon Tyne. Audiences were able to track the boat’s progress via a live, daily updated website.”
With the kind permission of Locus+, I’ve unearthed the sketches from my hard drives for you to see here:
So, back to Metropolis II…
On hearing of Burden’s latest piece, I was once again all ears and for good reason. Currently installed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, his sculpture ticks so many boxes for me on so many levels!
As the Huffington Post write:
“It’s a classic piece of German expressionist cinema reimagined as a complex piece of installation art — or the best ski-electrics set ever, depending on your perspective.
“Artist Chris Burden has built a model city based on Fritz Lang’s classic 1927 film Metropolis that features over 1000 toys cars soaring through its metallic skyscrapers at speeds of up to 230mph. Rarely has a moody dystopia and a critique of capitalism been such fun.”
Here is the piece for your delectation, all captured beautifully via the medium of the moving image…
Once again, I’m proud to have made the high resolution scan in preparation for the production of the latest twenty metre banner adorning BALTIC’s quayside wall.
As you will see, this is a particularly satisfying outcome when seeing the tiny size of the original artwork…!
Those who caught a post in November on my work with Anne Vibeke Mou will have had a glimpse into one of the areas of digital imaging I enjoy the most.
To my mind, scanning paintings and drawings at very high resolution, in order to produce an Archival Pigment Print, is one of the real opportunities to let the digital medium sing.
When presented with a pencil drawing, such as this piece by Liam Murray, I see it as the ultimate challenge to ensure that the print I make is extremely difficult to differentiate from the original.
Scanned in ten parts on my Fuji Lanovia, I set about painstakingly stitching the elements together. No mean feat with so much detail and texture.
However, my workflow has been refined time and again over many years in order to perfectly achieve a truly seamless result.
Making the final print with my HP DJz3200 on Hahnemühle Museum Etching 350gsm caps off the entire process with aplomb…
This piece of Liam’s is undoubtedly quirky and he explains it for us here:
“The piece is called Caravan. I finished it in 2010. It’s a little anecdote on human endeavour. I like the metaphor of a dwelling built on a scaffold, an impossible scaffold. It’s a laborious and spectacular choice, with unclear motive and likely failure. Despite this, on paper at least, it exists.
“I enjoy finding these ironies and tensions in life. Sometimes the endeavour succeeds despite utter negligence, other times rigid efficiency results in disaster. Nothing in life is certain, but a desire to make sense of it persists.
“I have long been fascinated with the idea of the fluke, and the unpredictability of life. Stories of catastrophes and lucky escapes are reminders of how fragile we can be yet how optimistic we remain. My aim is to depict scenes inspired by that tension and irony. “Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.” This to me is a grand and playful paradox that might offer an insight into the root of my drawing.”
From April to May, fifty stunning photographs graced the walls of The National Theatre on London’s South Bank.
Hot on the heels of Rockin’, it has been great to revisit another project of Andrew’s—The Circus.
I first had a glimpse of this body of work some seven years ago and, last week, the time came again to fire up my scanner and set about recording yet more captivating imagery from Andrew.
However, on receiving the parcel of 6×6 negatives and reference prints, little did I know that I was about to experience a shock ‘blast from the past’.
Staring at me from within the box was David Weeks, the ticket inspector from my school train journey!
He was certainly a character and, on reflection, it is of little surprise that I should see him in this guise…
Periodically, it’s certainly a pleasure to return to making high resolution film scans.
Film will always own a unique charm and beauty. If nothing else, it’s interesting to be reminded of grain structure’s dominance in the make-up of a negative.
So very recently, we used to be more than happy to accept the wonderful image quality provided by film.
To my mind, this sits at odds with a modern-day obsession—the eradication of relatively low levels of ‘unsightly’ noise in our digital captures.
I’ve written before about the importance, in my opinion, for a contemporary photographer to remind him or herself of our medium’s roots, especially in this era of The Photoshop Aesthetic…
Once in a while, let’s keep some noise, I say, and avoid the clinicism!