Reflections on Week 8

It is a source of some regret that I haven’t seen Crewdson’s pictures in a gallery setting. His cinematic style does call for the large scale presentation that was evident in the video clip.

I do really like big pictures. I like the fact that they create a viewing space, a virtual auditorium in front of themselves.

Looking at an image on a computer screen is a quite rigid experience. You will typically be seated. There is a comfortable viewing distance from the screen (especially if you are a spectacles wearer). Your view is of the whole picture at once. You may be impressed, but you can’t physically explore it.

I haven’t seen Crewdson’s work in a gallery, but I have seen the original, monumental canvases of Jackson Pollock and and the giant prints of Andreas Gursky. Both of these artists intend for their work to be presented on a large scale. Pollock’s canvases are truly impressive. Not only is the picture visible, but also the texture and the sense that an artist’s hand made this thing. Gursky’s giant prints invite both close inspection and a step back to view the image in its entirety. I’ve no doubt that Crewdson’s prints get the same reaction.

This is the virtual auditorium. The gallery visitors (myself included) move to the next exhibit. They read the guide or the placard. They stand back from the work to embrace it all. They move in to peer at a detail. They move to another detail. They stand back to discuss the picture with their companion. There is a dance of appreciation, a rite of admiration. The picture is not just viewed, it is consumed.

This rite simply doesn’t happen when viewing a book. or screen. There is no physical space to explore, either on the floor or occupied by the picture.

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