This work, commissioned by the artist for the 2019 Sharjah Art Biennial, began life with a chance discovery in a Damascus second-hand photography shop: a pile of silver gelatin negatives stuffed into a dusty white plastic bag, hidden away from sight. Consisting of studio portraits from the 1950s to the 1970s, Sarkissian realised the unique beauty of these aged negatives that, although not of the highest photographic quality, portrays individuals of the past as well as “hint at the world they created and the time they were living in”; “the characteristics of an era that evaporated from the present prevail in the images” as the artist describes it.
© Oak Taylor Smith
An image from this collection was selected by Sarkissian, “a head-and-shoulders portrait of a woman in the prime of her life looking far into the unknown”, and given to Factum Arte to be scanned and enlarged (with the same proportions) as a large sculptural object measuring 113 cm wide, 193.5 cm high, and 8 cm thick. The scanning of negatives’ front and back was carried out using Factum’s Lucida 3D scanner, with the artist intending to maintain the deteriorated texture of the image. As a result, special care was taken to study the surface and accurately duplicate every last scratch and speck of dust. High-resolution scans were also conducted alongside this in order to record the true colours of the photographs.
A testing stage was first executed involving the CNC routing of the piece in acrylic as a way to both analyse the transparency of the work, and to study the connection between the resolution of the digital file and of the routed result. The resulting design proposal stipulates that the image should be printed on acetate and laminated between two routed parts in acrylic 40 mm thick. This was followed by the final touches of a varnish being applied to protect the surface and create a more transparent finish.
In addition to this, Factum assisted in the design of a concrete plinth devised to hold the sculpture that was to be created on site in Sharjah.
© Oak Taylor Smith