PMG Multi-Media, Collage, and Composite Constructions

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Photographic Materials Conservation Catalog
Multi-media, Collage and Composite Constructions

Date: Initiated July 2014
Contributors: Luisa Casella

The Photographic Materials Conservation Catalog is produced by the Photographic Materials Group of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works as a convenience for the membership. The treatments, methods, or techniques described herein are provided for informational purposes. The reader assumes responsibility for any application results.

Purpose of Multi-Media, Collage and Composite Constructions Chapter

To maximize the chemical and physical stability of the objects while minimizing changes in the images, binders, and supports during the process of care.

Definition of Multi-Media, Collage and Composite Objects

Maker unknown (American), Collage, ca. 1910. Cigar labels, eight gelatin silver photographs on board. From the book "Forget Me Not" by Geoffrey Batchen.
Robert Frank, Untitled (1989). Silver gelatin prints stack, wire, thermal prints and plywood.
Karin Sander, Olivier Renaud-Clement 1:10,The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

Photographic materials may appear as part of artworks that include a variety of other components. The components could be of a variety of photographic processes as well as photo-sensitive elements such as Liquid Light emulsion applied to a variety of supports.

Overview of Multi-Media Processes

Collage

  • Process Overview and Materials
  • Specific Bibliography

Photo-sculpture (fotoescultura)

  • Process Overview and Materials
  • Specific Bibliography

Sculptographs

  • Process Overview and Materials
    • Objects referred to as sculptographs can include a variety of materials. They are presented as a photographic image adhered onto a secondary support that has been manipulated to create three-dimensionality to the image as a bas-relief. A patent dating from 1890-1900 refers to the use of a silver gelatin DOP solar enlargement pasted onto a lead sheet that is then worked from the verso to create a textured surface. Examples using the platinum process exist (such as produced by the Taber Bas Relief Photographic Syndicate Ltd, see http://www.photolondon.org.uk/pages/details.asp?pid=7544; other UK companies that produced sculptographs include Tru-Art Ltd, 40 Pall Mall, London SW1 and Linoprovae Ltd Relief Photography, 13 Lower Richmond Rd, London, SW15).
    • The lead/photograph was then tacked to a wood backing and the gap between the lead and the wood backing were filled with a red pigmented resin. The image can also have applied media such as pastel. In later patents the secondary support was paper and were made by wetting the photograph and a coarse paperboard secondary support and pressing them into a mold. The raised areas could then be filled with plaster and an additional support could be attached.
  • Specific Bibliography

Photographs as part of a larger composite work

(e.g. Joseph Kosuth's One and Three Glass)

Photo-sensitive emulsion applied to a composite work

  • Process Overview and Materials
  • Specific Bibliography

3D printing

  • Process Overview and Materials
  • Specific Bibliography

Photographs with applied media beyond traditional finishing techniques

  • Process Overview and Materials
  • Specific Bibliography

Factors to Consider With Multi-media, Collage, and Composite Constructions

The combination of multiple materials in an artwork poses particular preservation challenges. Different materials react differently to environmental conditions over time as well as to conservation treatment, and have specific requirements for optimal preservation.

Preservation Recommendations for Use, Display, or Storage

Conservation Treatment Techniques

With contemporary artworks there is the opportunity to discuss treatment approaches with the artist. In addition, detailed recording of information regarding the object, by use of tools such as the Photographic Information Record (PIR)is becoming the norm. This information will be invaluable in planning preservation strategies and addressing preservation of the works.
The photographic element may be relevant to the whole of the artwork insofar as it depicts a specific element. Deterioration of the photographic image may hinder the artist's vision and replacement with a contemporary photograph is often an acceptable conservation approach (Stitger 2005). It is relevant to consider that replacement of photographic elements with identical replicas may be increasingly more difficult as many processes are becoming unavailable. If replicas are made, it is advisable to produce multiples that may be kept in cold storage.

Exhibition

References

  • Batchen, Geoffrey. Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance. Princeton Architectural Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Inside Installation Art - http://www.inside-installations.org/
  • Stigter, Sanneke. “To replace or not to replace? Photographic material in site-specific conceptual art.” Preprints of the 14th ICOM-CC Triennial Meeting. The Hague, 12-16 September 2005. London: James & James/Earthscan, 2005. 365-370. Print and Web. http://www.inside-installations.org/OCMT/mydocs/STIGTER%20To%20replace%20or%20not%20to%20replace.pdf
  • Stigter, Sanneke. “Living artist, living artwork? Ethical problems in the conservation of colour photographs in the work of Ger van Elk.” IIC preprints Modern Art, Modern Museums, Bilbao 2004. 105-108.


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