Why print a photograph in 2019?
We are witnessing the historic transformation of photography from tangible objects—prints, plates, and negatives—to code: intangible bits, bytes, and pixels. As the tether between visual culture and the material world is recalibrated every day, a new form of literacy is required to draw meaning from physical media and its obsolescence. At the very moment when characterization and interpretation of the printed photograph is rapidly gaining ground, the momentum toward dematerialization raises the issue of the long-term relevance and sustainability of photography as a material fact. Does the physical photograph still matter today—as a source for teaching, learning, and scholarship—and will it matter into the future?
This three-day program is organized by Paul Messier, Director of the Lens Media Lab at Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage; Monica Bravo, Assistant Professor of History and Theory of Photographic Media at California College of the Arts; and colleagues at Yale University with the support and guidance of the FAIC Collaborative Workshops in Photograph Conservation advisory committee. The program and elective seminars will be geared for educators, students, curators, photographers and, particularly, for conservators whose core value proposition is most directly tied to the physical photograph. Insights from conservators, scholars, makers, and the art market will address the premise that physical photography is a closed set. The optional final day of the workshop will model interdisciplinary inquiry and seek to incubate collaborations focused on photography as a medium both material and immaterial. New tools will be examined for characterizing and contextualizing the photograph both as object and disembodied image.
Principal funding for this program comes from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Collaborative Workshops in Photograph Conservation and a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation Endowment for Professional Development.