Signs of Our Times - Additional Notes

The prints are intended as enlarged contact prints of the large format 8”x10”
colour negative film they were made with. The making of contact prints from
negatives inherently demands that all parts of the film are transferred to the
positive print.

To remain loyal to the integrity of the process, the choice has been made to show the
whole picture, from the complete sheet of film. We have been blessed by
advances in technology which allow us to scan the film and create “enlargeable”
contact prints from high resolution digital scans of the negatives. The
opportunity has been taken to print these scans at an enlarged level to enable
viewers to scrutinise the images; to immerse themselves in the details

Honest. Naked. Aiming to reveal both what was intended to be rendered as well as what
was accidentally captured. Nothing is hidden or cropped away from what was
caught on the film.

An authenticity should be revealed to the viewer where flaws are not hidden,
cropped or retouched away, that augments the authenticity of the subject matter
contained in each view. The story that motivated the artist to create these
photographs is complimented  by the truth
of the process of picture making with the film, camera, scanner, chemicals,
instruments, machines and tools. There exists an acknowledgement to the process
of production by skilled crafts men and women, in addition to the artist, who
have been necessary to deliver an allegory.

There are parts of the sheet of film that have been exposed to light and there are parts
that haven’t. The inclusion of both the exposed, positive area as well as the
negative, unexposed rebate, delivers a whole. The presence of the photographer
and his process is thus acknowledged within the context of the photograph
shown, which gives further dimension to what is ultimately an intense
biographical reckoning. The medium is part of the content of the piece.

McLaren, 3 November 2020.

“In practice, and as others have noted, the rebate always appears when contact
printing, unless special measures are taken to prevent it…When I look at a
contact print with the black rebate describing the film holder’s retaining
tabs, and the film’s notch code, with the pristine, rich, three dimensional
image glowing within it, I’m reminded the print is the result of an arduous
process, involving multiple, complex, sub-processes and materials. For me, it’s
not about bragging or boasting or posturing, but my sense of awe and wonder at
the whole thing, and I confess I feel that same way when I see others’
beautifully made contact prints that retain the rebate. I marvel at what is
concealed within the apparent simplicity of it; it’s just a negative laid on
paper, and exposed to light, but beyond this simple truth lies a complex chain
of decisions and manipulations, every one of which presenting the opportunity
for total failure. For me, the rebate is like the frame of a magic window, upon
which is written some of the spells and incantations that make it magical.
Whether this adds to the image or detracts from it is a personal matter, I
think. I think that for those for whom the rebate has no context
(non-photographers), it almost certainly detracts. For me, it’s always a treat.”

-       Jay DeFehr, 14 November 2010.

©Tristan McLaren 2022
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