Saturday, 19 June.
The Musee have scheduled a day of talks at ECAL, beginning with addresses from the co-curators of reGeneration2, Nathalie Herschdorfer and William Ewing. William’s talk ranges from his early days as a gallerist in Canada, and focuses on the unpredictable nature of success in the art world, including the sobering story of a photographer who in the 1950s had two shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and published a book, and of whom no trace can now be found. Kathy Ryan, picture editor of the NY Times Magazine, reprises her slide show from the previous evening, with more in depth background stories to some of her favourite pictures and stories from her long editorship. One thing she seems to take pride in is commissioning art photographers to shoot stories for the magazine, including Gregory Crewdson, (whose cinematic style clearly lent itself to adaptation to portraits of actors) and Thomas Demand. I had attended a lecture by Thomas Demand last year where he spoke in detail of his Oval Office series, which, it turns out, was a NY Times commission. Ryan said her main regret about that story was failing to make clear that Demand had recreated the Oval Office in cardboard and photographed the model, rather than the original. She felt that the recreation was so convincing that many people simply assumed it was the real White House.
We then heard from Laurent Cochet, the man who printed the entire show. It seems he has a similar kind of artisan operation to Kevin Church in Titirangi, a art school graduate doing custom photoprinting using the latest in large format inkjet technology, in his case using Hewlett Packard machines. As none of the exhibitors were able to supervise their prints, Laurent had to rely on small target prints that we were encouraged to provide. What intrigued me though was that he liked to have written instructions too, and of a rather subjective kind. It seems he likes to interpret the “feel” that an artist has asked to achieve in the print. This is exactly the sort of approach we used to have when I was doing custom cibachrome printing back in the days of Real Pictures.
The final speaker of the day was Fred Ritchin, photography critic and author of “After Photography”. In a very condensed talk he quickly covered a lot of critical ground, his key point being that we have still to invent an appropriate term for what comes after photography. Digital photography doesn’t quite cover it in his opinion. Using the analogy of the automobile, which for some time after its invention was referred to as the horseless carriage, since it was the horsed carriage that it replaced, Ritchin argued that the term “digital photography” is an interim one, which will seem quaintly old-fashioned once we have worked out what to call whatever it is we are now doing “after photography.”