Great Picture: Meaning, Import, and Place in Photo History


Great Picture: Meaning, Import, and Place in Photo History

The Great Picture is the final punctuation mark at the end of 170 years of film/chemistry-based photography and the start of digital dominance.

“It’s a negative from the very beginning of photography and a digital positive. It’s the bracket. On one side, the infancy of photography and on the other, the technological revolution.”

Carol McCusker, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego

“The Great Picture is one of those crazy ideas that occur to artists—an immense, black and gray, somewhat blurry image, evidence first and foremost of risks taken and overcome…. a threshold between memory and a new photographic vision.”

Lucy R. Lippard, art critic

“The Great Picture is the world’s largest photograph produced by the world’s largest camera. It is also the world’s largest statement, literally and metaphorically, about the role that photography plays in our society.”

Tyler Stallings, Curator, University of California

The camera obscura technology and the hand-applied photosensitive emulsion connect The Great Picture to photography’s origins. But within minutes of completion, extensive press coverage transmitted digital versions of the image across the world, and the image was immediately transformed via Photoshop from analog negative to digital positive. Photohistorians, taking note of the monumental scale of the undertaking and dual analog/digital nature of the image, position The Great Picture’s as a monumental marker of the moment when photography moved out of film and into pixels.