Monday, April 28, 2008
Vision To Visuals: A Traditionalist's View
Going digital doesn't mean ditching your aesthetics
Jerry describes the relationship with Roberto as such that he “can call or e-mail me at any time, and I fully understand the nature of his request.” Furthermore, Jerry's relationship with Roberto has matured to the point that when he thinks Roberto's request may not be appropriate, he “can tell him that and he'll listen. He definitely appreciates my input.”
And it's not just myself or Jerry who remains familiar with his work. Everyone in production, from the color-correction team to the printers, remain intimately familiar with Roberto's imagery. They all understand as well as appreciate the kind of attention his work needs. We prefer to go the distance by treating it as if it was our own.
Having been introduced to metallic prints in addition to exploring other digital printing techniques, Roberto's command of the medium has grown. “I love Duggal Labs' metallic prints because they're perfect for the series I did on the horses,” he says. “It's a perfect medium since the metallic paper has a radiating pearl luster that allows light falling on the images to shift with the time of day. Other prints absorb light in order to become what they are; the metallic prints act as a fine mirror and pick up whatever light is around them, reflecting it back to the observer.”
Roberto's interest with classic film cameras and their modern digital counterparts goes back and forth: “I've always liked and used film with my classic film cameras, as I call them, for my art projects and personal work. I always prefer the film cameras over the new improved digital ones, but you can't escape the modern-day marvels and you should embrace them as much as possible and use them to their advantage.”
As an example, Roberto's film on Sable Island, which debuted in February 2008, combines footage from both high-definition digital cameras as well as 16mm film cameras. His intent was “to combine the two mediums and create an image that's concurrently softer and sharper at the same time.”
For commercial work, Roberto uses his Hasselblad with a digital back, but when he's on Sable Island, he prefers “to use the old film backs and await the birth of the photograph” he has taken. “There's something wonderful in that waiting, in the unexpected. Perhaps I'm a romantic in that sense.”
Our relation has matured to the point that when Roberto has an idea for a gallery show, he'll meet with us during the conceptual phase. “When I have an idea for a show, I enjoy thinking through the design, meeting with the staff at Duggal and sharing with them my thoughts,” he says. “Mr. Duggal is always eager to hear my ideas. Together, we develop new ways of looking at the same thing. In the end, I end up learning a great deal.”
Roberto continues by explaining that “it's a natural thing to have a collaboration with the lab you're working with. You wouldn't expect them simply to take an order and send you a package. Such a relationship is shallow.”
In spite of his understanding and appreciation of all things digital, Roberto's purist visual aesthetic remains. “I don't like to alter my images in Photoshop,” he says. “However, it's a great tool to experiment with and to see the world in new ways. Perhaps such experimentation will make you dream in a different way the next time you want to take a picture.”
As he has learned from us, we've learned from him. Roberto has shared with me some very sound advice when he explained to me that “as things change, the old truth stays the same. Is it a good photo or a great one? Digital-acquisition technologies will improve at the rate by which we experiment. But a great shot, just like a great movie or a great book, always will be that because it has a great story, and that's what moves people. And if it has all that, does it matter if it's digital or film?”
Baldev Duggal, president and founder of Duggal, has been innovating visual solutions for image-makers for more than 40 years. Credited with building and designing the industry's first dip-and-dunk processing machine, Duggal has maintained his status as a leader in the imaging business and is heralded for outstanding service by consumer and trade magazines alike. With digital capabilities reaching worldwide, his headquarters covers a block on West 23rd Street in New York City.
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