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Monday, September 29, 2008

Vision To Visuals: Layers Of Commonality

A silk printing process made it possible to create a special cross-cultural exhibition

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Photography has the ability to powerfully communicate ideas and hopes, and can teach important messages to its viewers. Tom K. Loughlin, an inspired photographer from Crested Butte, Colo., wanted to do just this. Tom explained to me that he wanted to create a show that demanded an unconventional approach to displaying images. This immediately intrigued me to work with him and combine his ideas with the new technologies we have been researching at Duggal.

I came to learn about Tom’s experience and travels to the Middle East. From a young age, Tom became cognizant of the Iranian revolution and the taking of the U.S. Embassy. Over the last few years, Tom recognized the negative feelings the American people once again feel toward Iran due to the current conflicts between the two governments and heated statements from the Iranian President. He believes these feelings aren’t shared by the common people of both countries and decided he’d find a way to showcase our common humanity.

In October of 2006, he traveled to Iran and collected images of life as an Iranian man, woman and child. He found that his images portrayed the real life of the people the way they should be known and returned two more times, taking more photographs and recording a range of interviews and sounds of people talking and children laughing. With this material, he was ready to create a one-of-a-kind exhibit to be seen by a large audience.

Tom didn’t want to just show his images indoors on a gallery wall. For his viewers to really see the images the way they needed to, he wanted viewers to brush by others in a narrow corridor where they would find themselves face to face with one another. Tom explained that he also was hoping to have the images printed on both sides, but yet also be translucent. The installation needed to be a large-scale structure so it could be noticed in a public space, but also be portable enough that it could be built and taken down in just a few hours. This project was a challenge, but definitely an exciting one.

I was exuberant to inform Tom that we’ve been researching and testing a printing process that would allow us to produce photographic-quality images on a large scale on both sides of a silk fabric. This new technology allowed us to create equal density in the images on both sides of the fabric while letting light and wind to pass through. We were able to produce the images Tom needed to cover his structure, spanning 60 feet long by 25 feet high by 25 feet wide. The structure was composed of different components from Persian architecture. It was constructed with two wings, a dome and archways that are found in traditional homes, indicating hospitality.


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