|A lambda printer, in very small scale. Widths can |
reach 120 inches (305 cm). Also not obvious is that
part of the machine is in total darkness.
Even in its primordial stage, SIS was to be a sensorial experience. I hadn't even thought of the images forming an environment to walk through, but I knew you had to feel cold and isolated. Any tip-off of the pieces' creation, production or manufacture would render it pedestrian.
I tried making an internegative and a large print from an enlarger at a
commercial lab. Total failure. The print that came from that experience sucked. (That's the nicest way to put it). That size print requires a copy camera room (just about obsolete) and, more critically, a series of test strips to asses exposure, contrast and color. Additionally, the paper's reciprocity factor has to be added in. Compensating all the factors, exposure could take about 50 minutes, challenging the the lab's limitations. The print was about $ 230.00. The lab apologized but said no refunds, they'd take care of me with the reprint. I would have had more fun putting the cash through a shredder.
Enter the Lambda, by Durst. It exposes photo paper via programmed laser rather than spraying ink (toner) on a surface (such as paper, canvas plastic or metal). The images had to be scanned; no easy feat since the drum needs hours to produce the files to make digital c-prints that size, even if the resolution is a mere 400 dpi. Many shops turned me down since they didn't want their scanner operating for such long periods (4-5 hours). I found this totally annoying since it's not like I wasn't paying for the scanning time--they just didn't want their machine working for such a long clip.
Scans in, then came the computer work. My color smarts kicked in as did my production savvy and I was able to get some good prototypes (see an earlier post in which I sliced up the digital image, composited one file and sent it to the lab in Michigan. They printed the file on the duratrans film, mounted it on acrylic and I could asses how the color was going to be once it was installed in the LED panel http://bit.ly/1AONSUT ). A Cheetah rip allowed the prints to be made quickly, easily, dependably.
Sad that the panels don't photograph well; transmitted light never does. But the critical test was passed: The viewers were transfixed. They had never seen anything like it, and that's all that matters.