This is a guest post by Olivier Laude.
I have been staring at hi-res scans of my 8×10 work on my Apple 30″ inch LCD display for a number of years now and wondering why the same displays have not yet been made to accommodate large display sizes. Thin museum quality LCDs, LEDs or better yet, OLED displays to display our work in larger sizes, 40 x50, 60×50 and bigger….
Anyone who has had the pleasure of watching a well mastered Blu-ray disc on a good quality 1080P HD screen will come off the experience a better man or woman and wonder why this technology is not being put to good use in the world of photography. I am convinced that there is a large market for high end electronic displays where photographers and other artists can show their work in a way that completely bypasses the “Print”. Personally, I have been very frustrated by the process, one fraught with difficulties, work flow hick ups, expense and many other such issues which crop up when faced with the task of producing large prints for gallery or museum display.
Often the end product is nice enough, or close enough to my creative intentions, but the greatest frustration is that the last step in the making of images is left to a printer (not to me), and to one who may or may not care about my real intentions. The limitations of their technology, skills, experience, and increasingly scarce geographical locations often prevent or limit my creative choices, not to mention the cost of a C-41 printer.
I work very hard to produce an image which pleases me, but I often find myself frustrated by that last step…a final step many photographers struggle with: The exact and brilliant reproduction and display of one’s work. Even-though, the print has served us well for well over a 150 years, I believe it is time to explore and demand that a niche market of high end large flat screen displays be developed for the photography market.
My original idea was to use 16:9 ration LCD TVs but the aspect ratio does not fit the average aspect ratio of many cameras(8×10, 4×5. 6×7 etc…). This led me to believe that there would be a market for high end LCD or OLED flat panel displays for fine art photographers, as well as other artists who might wish to display their work in a format other than regular TV panoramic formats. The ability to buy a high end barebones display, that is one without broadcast tuner or other electronic components needed to display moving images, would open a new medium for display and appreciation of photography as a whole.
Many photographers, unlike myself, did not grow up with film and digital cameras and have become very adept at manipulating and producing digital photographs and other works of art. These growing communities do not seek out the traditional print and to date, contents themselves to viewing their work on PC screens and on the internet. A new product catering to their needs, and to mine would be extremely successful and well received by a new, as well as older generation of photographers and visual artists.
The ability to frame this display with conventional frames, as well as sophisticated and functional color, contrast and multiple viewing interface (contrast, luminosity, back lighting, etc..) would render this product a versatile and more easily accepted new format. For example, the photographer might wish to approximate the look and feel of a C-print which could be achieved, as well as many other results.
A photoshop compatible display, one easily calibrated with common and sophisticated ICC profiles would go a long way to express the photographer’s vision, as well as provide him or her with a versatile, cheaper, more user friendly and better adapted product than the traditional C41 print. This display would be a sharper, more detailed version of their digital original.
I am convinced that this generation of photographers, as well as subsequent ones will demand a product better attuned to their digital abilities and aptitudes, not a product which is becoming increasingly scarce, expensive and monolithic. A product found only in major metropolitan areas, but who’s market share is shrinking and becoming more difficult to purchase and review. Most photographers who print for a gallery, home or institutional display do so long distance or through Fed-ex, a process which is rife with expensive reviews, slow and archaic.
There are many types of displays but personally I think the OLEDs are starting to look increasingly like the display to be. Their contrast aspect ratios are extraordinary, as well as their incredible thinness. Samsung’s latest 40″ OLED TV is an astounding piece of technology and produces a brilliantly sharp and amazingly detailed image, one much closer to what I am used to when I stare at my 8×10 commercial drum scans. Another interesting technology which to some degree is still in its infancy are E-readers(electronic paper). These albeit small displays have a very interesting way to mimic the book page and a visually tactile texture which I personally would like to see incorporated into larger color or black and white electronic display technology.
To conclude, here are other potential uses for Electronic Fine Art Display (EFADs, just made that up):
1-Ability to wirelessly control the content of the display. For, an artist or photographer might upload and change a show over a period of time by adding or removing work over a network.
2-The same principle could apply to a collector who might wish to “subscribe” to an artist’s work and receive a photography subscription. New images would be uploaded based on a specific delivery contract with galleries, musems and collectors.
3-Work would be sold and downloaded in any number of electronic formats and uploaded into the display. Some high end TVs allow the user to transfer their family photos to their screen for viewing but a more high end and flexible system would be easily devised to allow the artist or photographer to fine tune the image on a screen or allow for laptop and PC connectivity.
4-Imagine a show of 40x50s or 50x60s and larger EFADs in a darkened room, gallery or museum setting. Personally I cannot imagine a more impactful way to display my personal work.
5-Re-usable. Price wise these displays might cost more up front than a typical print but large, archival quality frames are extremely costly; making a EFAD competitive and attractive.
6-Matt and glossy screens…and even touch screen technology.
7-…..I am purposely leaving this list short and open sourced as I think it would be best if my fellow photographers and artists could add their own ideas and suggestions. An open source submission will make for far more ideas and suggestions, as well as other concepts than I could possibly come up with. Some of you might well be far more technologically inclined than I am and that knowledge might lead this idea to further developments, as well as serve as a way to push this concept on manufacturers and make this dream a possibility somewhere down the line. Have at it…the discourse will create its own weather and further refine this burgeoning concept.