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About Figure Studies

There is info about this project at Vela Noche and the Figure Studies Publication page. There is also a very lengthy description of the entire project at The Agnostic Print, not only some of the artistic evolution, but it’s very heavy on in depth advanced digital technique with regard to final print results. Since that will be hard for many to wade through, I’ll put something brief here.

The work was shot in my studio in 1995. I wanted to try something very new to me and my previous experiences, though figure study work as a rule does not appeal to me, I had a workshop with Ruth Bernhard in the 80s and always loved her work. Stieglitz, Ralph Gibson, and a few others had images I responded to as well. I had everything I needed to try it, I envisioned platinum prints made from 10×12″ negatives using a very old 10×12″ camera I was about to finally sell. I also had a studio, and lighting, and a model willing to give it a try.
Some quick 35mm work to get comfortable and create many test compositions. After selecting some things to execute from that, each 10×12″ studio session was 1/2 to 1 day long, per shot. Working with the large camera and perfecting composition and lighting was not easy. Often weeks between shoot days, I’d make Palladio contact prints as we went along. After 10 or 12 images were made, I felt I had exhausted the potential within the narrow range of feel of image I was interested in, and had begun repeating myself. Then the work sat for some years, though the Palladio prints were lovely, they seemed to fall slightly short of what the negatives really had to offer, I also tried sliver, and they were much too dramatic for the feel of the images as I imagined them. After learning monochromatic inkjet printing as it came into it’s own, I tried various inks and papers and “looks” with that as well, still not really reaching my goal. Finally in 2008 after the introduction of a variety of hues of 7 density monochromatic ink sets were available from Cone, and I had learned some advanced techniques with the Ergosft RIP to manipulate and perfect how the inks went down on paper, I set aside a printer to develop a combination of those inks and perfect an approach to finally make the prints I envisioned. After months of trial and error, described in depth in the Agnostic Print article, I made the finals. From careful inspection of each print, only 4 full sets were perfect, and again I set them aside. For some time I’d bring them out, show them to others, and become more and more satisfied it was finally done, the results lived up to and exceeded the potential I had imagined. In 2012 my friend Lauren Henkin brought her expertise to help me design and plan a portfolio, box, type, materials, letterpress etc.. and a long time mentor of mine, Marsha Burns, agreed to write an introduction. In 2013, everything was finally completed, and I am thrilled with the result. I can only hope my other work rises to the level of this as printed images, objects of art, thanks to the constant support of those around me. I’ll quote Marsha again and am humbled by her description.

“Here is a language in rich dusky tones reviving the mystery of being, every time we visit these prints.”

To quote master printer and photographer, my friend John Dean, whose advice and opinions I will always seek-

“Anyone who thinks that contemporary pigment “digital inkjet” printmaking necessarily has to take a back seat to the highest standards of gelatin silver, platinum/palladium, or intagllio craftsmanship has not seen this body of work. What this represents is the highest standard of what printmaking today can accomplish. Tyler not only does this on a regular basis, but in this portfolio has raised the bar once again. The entire process was painstakingly created for the specifics of the imagery at hand. In today’s world, that alone is rare event.”

The camera was an 11×14″ Folmer and Schwing view camera beast with a 10×12″ reducing back, the film was 10×12″ Super XX, the lens a 14” Goerz Blue Dot Trigor. The film was drum scanned, prints are on Museo Portfolio Rag, with a combination of Cone Selenium and Carbon K7 ink sets, and overprinted with Cone’s gloss optimizer (for depth not gloss). The image size is ~13.5 x 16.5″ on 17×22″ sheets. The edition is 4 boxed full sets, there are a few A/Ps of some of the images. I just finally sold the 10×12 camera in 2013 on ebay.

2 Responses to “About Figure Studies”

  1. Steven Smith says:

    Price for the boxed set?

  2. tyler says:

    I apologize for the late replay, I’ve been out of town. I will email you Steven, thanks for your interest.

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