From: Richard Sullivan (email@example.com)
Date: 11/02/01-04:08:06 PM Z
I am getting a bunch of replies off-line. I'll try to address most of the
issues here instead of individually.
I've been intrigued with this topic for some time now.
First off, I don't consider digital as a "threat" to alt, quite the
contrary. B+S has grown significantly every year, and almost every month
tops the preceding. Some of that growth is due to the digital revolution.
(Sheese! Talk about price. My first S100 buss system cost me $5000.00 1980
dollars and I had to wire it myself! Just bought a 1 Gig system with all
the bells and whistles including monitor and printer for $497.95. Couldn't
believe it. 1200 DPI canners at $79.00 -- yikes.)
Three digitally things are driving alt photo. One is empowerment of niche
marketing -- Internet and all, that is the thing that has brought many of
us together. APIS would not have been possible without the Internet. Second
is the digital negative. Third is a gentle backlash to the digital craze.
Folks who do alt are almost always skilled in the basics and on the whole
have a good esthetic sense. That is not my concern. My worry is Gresham's
law as applied to photography. There is a subtle tieing of the digital to
alt going on right now. I had quite a few inquiries as to why we didn't do
a digital segment at APIS this year. We actually did in the teacher's forum
where digital was the primary topic of discussion. Dan Burkholder was there
as well as Sandy King and a dozen others, some from this group but my
memory sags at the moment.
My problem was that digital has a huge support system out there already.
Epson, Adobe, Apple, tons of informational resources. Not the same with
carbon printing, dags, etc. Taking up time with digital takes time away
from collotype, etc., where we need information.
I was very impressed recently in France to see 83 year old Pierre Brochet,
master of carbon and copper gravure for over 60 years, bravely immersing
himself in Photoshop -- truly inspiring to my 61 year old mind.
For myself I am curious as to where all this is leading. I see some good
and some bad. We are about to see some drastic changes in the photo world.
Already Polaroid looks like history. Photo periodicals are dying. (It's
already happened in the PC world. Look at the size of PC magazine. Five
years ago it looked like the Sears Catalog.) We have instead the web. Do I
miss the printed photo mag page to curl up with in bed. Yes, but I won't
trade it in for a good collection of web sites.
Bill gates reportedly has digital flat panels installed in his Taj Mahal
that display art. Supposedly the art can change dynamically according to
his mode or the time of day or his house guests preferences. Maybe that is
the future. I doubt it.
When I started B+S in 1979 (1980?, I dunno exactly when, it sort of
spontaneously generated.) There were maybe 10 platinum printers in the
world working seriously. Likely there were no wetplaters, daggers,
calotypists, and a few dozen gum printers in existence then. (I felt
awfully lonely in my gum world) Today there is a vibrant community for many
of the "long dead" processes. The growth of alt parallels the growth of
digital and perhaps not accidently so.
Many of the college students who visit our premises for demos and the such
weren't even born in 1980. All of this is just life as it is, much the same
as Dana and Kevin both learned word processing on Wordstar on a Osborne CPM
machine, typewriters are archeological artifacts. Alt photo just is and I
think they take it for granted, something like the Internet and has been
around for ever.
I often hear from a lonely platinum printer in Tasmania, or India, or
Hungary, longing for a local community. There was a time when shipping
something off to Alabama was a thing of note but we have even shipped
platinum kits to Anarctica, so it's gotten about as weird as it's going to
It's an interesting evolution. Lots of curve balls being pitched but I am
not swinging at any one in particular.
Like I said, just musing.
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