Friday, February 27, 2009

Ofer just posted over on Horses Think about a talk at the New School on the Obsolescence of the Photographic Object. This type of thing is great for those of us unable to attend due to geography or what have you.

This bit relates to an early post in which I posed this same question:

An interesting topic of conversation brought up by Mia Fineman, was a question related to the idea of collecting a digital file. Basically, when the Metropolitan buys a photograph today, they get two prints. One is for framing and display while the other, known as the reserve, goes into storage and darkness until the day that the original needs replacing.

Fineman wondered if the reserve print might be replaced by collecting a digital file instead. She took the idea a step further (and this is where it gets interesting, maybe scary) by wondering if maybe the museum of the future would only collect digital files and not the artwork itself. When a photograph was required for inclusion in an exhibition the museum could just have the image printed. Since there is a whole calibration system in place, the digital file could hold all the necessary information to present the work as the artist originally intended. This would probably save museums a ton of money since they wouldn’t have to pay for storage and for transporting photographs back and forth or around the world. In my mind an idea like that takes photography and puts it into the realm of video and how that is collected these days.

It seems to me that the idea of a foundation keeping this file would be safer than the museums keeping them, as output could be better controlled. All I know is I wouldn't necesarily trust that some intern or junior curator wouldn't walk in with a memory stick one day and print themself a million dollar photo the next.


Unknown said...

Do you really think there could only be one digital file? How could you control that and would you want to? There simply has to be back-ups. What if said intern accidentally deletes these digital files, or spills their mocha chi Starbucks on the system. Plus what about the creator of the image? Wouldn't they be foolish not to have a copy or two?

Lets take this a step further, why have prints at all? Lets just project the images, right?

Mmmm, maybe lets collect white spaces instead.

J. Wesley Brown said...

Yes, of course backups. I'm arguing they'd be safer in the artist's or their foundations' control vs. giving a file to a museum or collector.