Après-gardeMonday, February 11, 2013
This framed picture is on a wall as I go down (or up) the stairs between our bedrooms and the ground floor. It is almost impossible to ignore even though the wall is full of other pictures of our family. I took the photograph of my eldest daughter Alexandra in Vancouver in 1978 using Kodak b+w infrared film. I went to San Francisco to visit a friend and relatives and I did what many of us do when we are in another city (play the tourist) even though the “service” may have been possible in Vancouver. On Market Street they were selling T-shirts to which they would transfer any picture you provided. I had an 8x10 print of Ale. They made the shirt and the process began with what was then called a Xerox machine. I noticed that the two different copies they made on Xerox paper were quite beautiful so I asked for them.
In my living room I have a tiny (2½ inch), five picture narrative of which this is the first one. I took the pictures with a Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD and a 140mm lens in 2001. I used Ilford FP-4 film and when I scanned the negatives I purposely misinformed my scanner that what I was scanning was colour negative. Colour negatives of what is still called the Kodak C-41 Process have a built in orange mask. This meant that with a bit of tweaking I could almost get a nice flesh tone. I had the digital files printed on what was the best technology of 2001. The process is commonly called an ink jet print but when carefully done and when good printing paper is used ink jets become giclées and you pay more. If you were to see the originals in my living room (and you would have to intimately get very close!) you would see the tiny little dots of spray (giclée is French for spray). They are charming and if I were to re-do these the much improved inkjet printers would lose that charm.
I would call both of my pictures here part of what could be a growing trend in our fight against a global uniformity cemented by a rapidly changing but equivalent technology. Let’s call it après-garde.