Large format print – How to improve it

Improving our technology of production

Current processing technology and exhibition of large-format photographs requires the use of various materials that interact in potentially negative ways with the print. Therefore, we improved our production and envision a full-sized, archival-quality support panel replacing composite support elements. The reversible adhesive will be machine-processed leading to seamless adhesion generating a smooth surface. The retouching colors will be removable. Digital direct exposures, such as Lambda and Lightjet, are subject to size limitations. Novel, high-resolution negatives of digital files allow for analog enlargement, which overcomes size limitations and the need for several splice joints. Analog enlargements also do not generate the digital artefacts related to resolution that commonly occur in digitally processed large-format prints.

The REANALOG WORKFLOW seeks to return established digital processing of artistic photographic images to an analog approach. This combines the advantages of digital photography and versatile image processing with superior analog printing techniques. The benefit of REANALOG negatives lies in the removal of any digital artefacts and the analog archiving of images on negatives.

Building on this idea, large format prints can be generated also from photographic image substrates such as silver gelatin and water-based inkjet prints. Both media have the challenges of splicing and retouching because of the paper carriers. This new idea will eliminate these challenges.

Improving the transportation of the image

The photographic image and its aluminium case can be transported separately from the decorative frame to decrease the risk of transportation damage easily encountered with large-scale pieces. The photograph will be housed in a sealed aluminium case with protective acrylic glazing or glass. This case construction will come on rolls. Wrist straps fixed to the aluminium construction will facilitate the process of hanging large-scale pieces. The decorative wooden frame will not have any load-bearing function and all transportation elements will be disassembled after hanging the artwork. This means that no extra protection of the edges will be necessary; at the same time, the acrylic or glass panel will be fully protected.

Durability – Sustainability – Long-term Stability

Our removable acrylic glazing or glass will aid the sustainable preservation of photographic images. The detrimental outgassing of applied materials that might harm the print will be substantially decreased. We will test the adhesives applied for residue-free removal of the photographic image and aim for tension-free adhesion. The entire set-up will help with the stabilization of the colors and the sealed frame construction will ensure a sufficient barrier function against pollution from outside. Assuming that it is the hand-made print that has the exclusive cultural heritage status, all other frame components should protect the print without interfering with its visual impact. As all applied materials (acrylic glazing, aluminium, adhesives and wood) are characterized by different permanence properties and require different preservation handling, the envisioned frame enclosure will include archival-quality barriers between the individual materials.

Exchangeable parts in case of surface changes

The acrylic glazing or glass panel that is fixed unattached to the photographic image will allow future conservation intervention should this be required. The mounted print can be removed from the aluminium case and can be exchanged if desired while keeping the frame. Also, the decorative wooden frame will be exchangeable, and the retouching colors will be removable. In other words, the enclosed print will be accessible for any conservation measures that might typically apply in the preservation of photographic images as a result of surrounding light and climate conditions, which may include local intervention or overall dismounting and replacement.

Cooperation

Recom ART has started a research and development project supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research on “sustainable framing of large scale prints“ in cooperation with the program Conservation of Works of Art on Paper, Archives and Library Materials at the Stuttgart Academy of Art and Design. The Recom ART team, Prof. Dr. Irene Brückle and PD Dr. Henniges will work together with their students and external stakeholders to develop novel solutions for the production of a preservation enclosure solution for large format photographic prints. Key issues are the fixation of the prints in the aluminium case construction and the impact of framing materials on the aging properties of prints.

We welcome your suggestions and are looking forward to exchanging ideas concerning this project.