Does Size Matter?

The size of the work should be driven by the content rather than the market. Right?

The fact is, in the art industry where selling work and getting gallery representation drives many artists’ working methods, working either very large or very small seems to be the shtick. It would seem there is no in between.

Size can be a very powerful tool, one that can affect our experience when viewing the final print. Scale can upset our preconceived ideas and change our perspective. Very large works of the human form allow a greater detail of self-examination, very small works of the same subject (the human form) remind us of our infinitesimal existence within the larger context of the world.

As technology in output equipment advances and prices continue to drop, large-scale photographs continue to increase in both size and frequency. The envelope is ever expanding, pushing the boundary line of the possible further and further away from the impossible. It has become commonplace to see a building fully wrapped in a photograph, or an advertisement aimed at arresting our gaze for a few brief moments.

The question one begs to ask is: Why the large scale prints? Is it because the content of the work dictates the size? Or is it because we can?

Something to consider when making photographs is the proximity of the viewer to the work. All too often I have witnessed in a gallery, regardless of the size of the work, viewers sticking their noses as close to the work as possible without touching it. Why do viewers of a photograph press their faces into the work? Is it to view the technical merit? Is it to view the grain structure? Or is it to examine the intricate details found in works like those of Andreas Gursky?

In the very small work, the details are still being examined just as they are in the very large work. So is there a difference between the tiny and the huge? Does size matter? If there is a difference is it only in the nature of large works to envelop us by their massive scale?

What are your thoughts? Can you name some photographers who are working at the opposite end of the spectrum to that of Gursky; working in the realm of the tiny photograph? Please share your comments and upload example images below.


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