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Size Matters. Scale and Measure in Photography


The question of size and relationships of scale is closely linked to photography. A photographic image is like a window on the world, which reproduces on a relatively small paper surface a piece of reality that the photographer has seen through the lens. Not only the world in miniature: through the possibility of obtaining different photographic prints from the same negative, the same shot can produce different sized prints that increase the play of relationships of scale between the photographed object and photographic images. At least since the use of the enlarger became widespread: in the nineteenth century contact prints, which were the same size as the negative plates, were made almost exclusively and therefore – when the desire was to obtain a real “picture” such as the views of the American West by C. E. Watkins – they could take on the sizeable proportions of the so-called mammoth negatives. With the tiny “cartes de visite” the miniature portrait genre
became accessible to the bourgeoisie. The natural sciences immediately capitalized on the possibilities of exploring reality offered by the new technique, developing micro and macro photography. Not to mention the sizes of cameras and other equipment, which were the continuous subject of studies and technological innovation. In the twentieth century, with the emergence of photography as an independent art form, the increasingly large sizes of prints for exhibitions became one of the photographer's means of expression. Dimensions and relationships of scale are also fundamental for historical and artistic photographic documentation: this online exhibition presents some materials selected to accompany the conference “Size Matters: Questions of Scale in Art History”.

Costanza Caraffa & Emanuele Lugli

© KHI in Florence | 02.06.2023 06:13:11