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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Vision To Visuals: Walk, Don’t Walk

By crowd sourcing, an artist created a unique display in Lower Manhattan

Barkai was introduced to us through Milchan, an exceptional artist and curator, with whom we’ve worked for almost a decade. Barkai’s installation required a printed expanse of over 500 feet, all in a photographic-quality print that would withstand the test of weather—this installation will be up for a year. Barkai worked closely with our senior art executive Marina Stark to determine how these different images were going to be printed, stitched together and installed. When the conversation first began a year ago, we were in the process of buying a wide-format printer that offers the most exceptional photographic quality for outdoor printing. Luckily, for Barkai, we bought that printer right before her project, and the results were astounding. The special challenge in printing in large format is the proper reproduction of deeply saturated and consistent black areas of a photograph. Barkai’s images are all set against a stark black background, so it was critical that the printing process showed no lines or patches of different tones of gray. Our new ultrawide printer isa six-color process, which created continuous-tone photographic-quality panels of Barkai’s prints, as good as art prints.

The final installation was 585 feet wide and 8 feet high, and was installed on three street blocks wrapping Church Street. We first had to do a site survey to determine the exact size of each plywood panel that was to be wrapped, and based on these measurements, work with the digital files to create separate panels, making sure that we didn’t create a seam through any of the 99 figures in the installation. This prepping process required a skilled coordination between our print technicians, retouchers, installers and the artist.

Barkai’s project is also a nod to the brilliant inspiration that Mayor Bloomberg has provided to artists in this city. It was in 2004, during Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative to replace the standard traffic light signs with “more pedestrian-friendly” symbols, that Barkai began photographing the different representations of similar icons around the world.

For me, this “Walking Men 99” installation not only is an international celebration of one of the most familiar pedestrian icons from around the world, but a true testament to my favorite city’s diversity and resilience, which casts even a downturn period into the most cheerful and inspiring interaction platforms with a unique New York style.

When I asked Barkai about her experience working with my team, she made me immensely proud by saying, “Duggal brought my vision to life on the printed vinyl. I worked closely with Marina Stark, who was dedicated to the project in any way imaginable, hustling days and nights, always making herself available. ‘Walking Men 99,’ a site-specific public installation, required the skillful hand of Duggal’s staff, from printers to installers, who all did above and beyond to ensure that the final result would match my expectations.”

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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