Distant, Close, Big, Small: Rethinking the Scale of Things

5 Responses to Distant, Close, Big, Small: Rethinking the Scale of Things

  1. This is something that comes up a lot for Archives and digitizing images. Researchers and even casual users WANT that ability to zoom, zoom, zoom. History aficionados LOVE Shorpy’s– even though it’s problematically based on making a profit on stuff that public funding has made available. Because it only bothers with the highest-quality images.

    Meanwhile archival “best practices” for scanning DPI are hardly future-proof– I think current standards will be seen as woefully insufficient in less than ten years– and many archivists are worried about loss of archival control of the image if they give it away at full size.

    The big image transforms the image into something with added value. The “web standard” 72dpi or what have you actually transforms the image by REDUCING value to users.

  2. Perhaps this session could take place near the 3D printer to also discuss scale of physical objects? Not totally the point, but it could relate. One thing I’ve been fascinated about for awhile is how scale of a reproduction (3D or representation in a photo) of a physical thing influences our interpretation of that thing. Photographs of a painting might be very large and taken at a high resolution so as to increase our ability to zoom, but the actual canvas might be very small.

    Then how does the viewer/screen/page that we see things out of scale also change our interpretation (mobile device, projected on a large wall, the Little Printer, et al).

    Great idea!

  3. Great topic. Along the lines of what Sheila says, I saw Lev Manovich talk a couple months back, and it was eye-popping to see a painter’s entire oeuvre displayed as a data set, and on a huge screen, no less. The shrinking and rearrangement displayed patterns that just weren’t easy to see at their normal scale. Along the same lines, and kind of the flip of what Sheila said about reproduction, is that we get used to seeing some paintings in books, ads, etc., but in person (Pollock, etc.) the size can have its own effect that is entirely absent in small copies. How can we consciously play with/leverage that scale shift to do something interesting?