Big Print

I've always wanted to make bigger prints. Maybe this comes from starting out as a spray painter of large canvasses but I was always frustrated at photography's smallness and preciousness. I remember my first years of working in the 8 x 10 format, how I hated making contact prints, always wanting to enlarge the big negatives to make large prints of unsurpassed quality. (In case you don't know, getting into enlarging an 8 x 10 negative to make bigger prints was not a project to be taken lightly. It took me years to get this together. This required a massive enlarger, a high ceiling, an extremely stable floor, and so on.)

Perhaps that's why I was so excited when Bruce Ployer, who was in charge of art on campus at Northeastern, came to me several years ago with a plan to make one of my photographs very large. It seemed the new president announced that he wanted more art on campus, that he believed art shouldn't be hidden away, that it should be in public spaces for all to see. This was something new on campus and even rarer, he allocated funds to make this happen. I met with Bruce and we agreed to make a large print from a color 8 x 10  inch transparency of a picture I'd made of wheat earlier the year before.

When I say large here I don't mean 5 x 4 feet or even 10 x 8 feet. This print was to be 40 x 30 feet across!

Here it is installed on the brick face of a building facing one of the school's quads:

The transparency was scanned (making a 3 GB file!) and then printed in panels by a billboard company on a flexible vinyl material. The panels were seamlessly bonded together and the print was held up with a system of grommets around the perimeter, stretched tight and smooth.

Imagine going to work each day, parking my car in the nearby garage and walking to my office right by this print. The photograph was up for two years and when taken down was cut up and made into tote bags to give to alumni donors.

By far my biggest print. Man, I loved that! Seeing that print up there every time I went to work.

Topics: Commentary

Permalink | Posted December 3, 2013