To display its epic proportions, the UCR Sweeney Art Gallery & Culver Center of the Arts will showcase ‘The Great Picture: The World’s Largest Photograph & The Legacy Project,’ an exhibition in three parts that tells the tale of the successful campaign to make the world’s largest camera and photograph.
The photo’s mammoth scale of 32 x 111 feet earned it a place in Guinness World Records, and made it a photo history landmark.
“It is also an exploration of the 172-year-old conflict between painting and photography, and the more recent waning of traditional, analog, darkroom photography in the wake of digital dominance,” says Tyler Stallings, artistic director of the Culver Center of the Arts and director of the Sweeney Art Gallery.
The two-story atrium at the Culver Center of the Arts provides a rare opportunity to present such a gargantuan photograph. The Great Picture will be on view from July 16 to Oct. 8, 2011, with a free opening reception on July 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. at 3834 Main Street in Riverside.
The Great Picture is a history-making gelatin silver photograph three stories high by eleven stories wide. The image was made using a shuttered Southern California F-18 jet hanger transformed into an enormous camera obscura — the largest camera ever made. The Great Picture Project artists are Jerry Burchfield, Mark Chamberlain, Jacques Garnier, Rob Johnson, Douglas McCulloh, and Clayton Spada — The Legacy Project.
Six well-known photographic artists, known as The Legacy Project, aided by 400 artists, experts, and volunteers, transformed the abandoned F-18 jet hangar at the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Orange County into the largest camera ever made, and then proceeded to make the world’s largest photograph, known as “The Great Picture.” The image is a panoramic view of a portion of the former Marine Corps Air Station, which is destined to become the heart of the Orange County Great Park.
On July 12, 2006, The Legacy Project unveiled the world’s largest photograph at a reception held inside the world’s largest camera. It has been exhibited only twice since then during a short viewing at Art Center College of Design, South Campus Wind Tunnel in Pasadena in 2007, and this past winter at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China.
The Sweeney Art Gallery/Culver Center’s presentation of “The Great Picture” will be accompanied for the first time by additional components that explore the process behind its making and the artists who made it, collectively known as The Legacy Project.
The project is organized by UCR Sweeney Art Gallery & Culver Center of the Arts, and has been curated by Tyler Stallings, artistic director for the Culver Center of the Arts and the director of Sweeney Art Gallery. In the past, Stallings has curated other exhibitions that have examined artistic challenges to photographic media that range from ‘Conceptual Photography’ from the Permanent Collection at Laguna Art Museum in 2005 to ‘Truthiness: Photography as Sculpture’ at UCR/Califronia Museum of Photography in 2008.
“The Great Picture: The Making of the World’s Largest Photograph” is a 196-page book, published and distributed by Hudson Hills Press, that accompanies the exhibition with essays by Stallings, Dawn Hassett, and Lucy R. Lippard, and features photographs documenting the monumental and unprecedented project.
Exhibition in Three Parts
The exhibition is divided into three parts. The centerpiece is the photograph featured in the Culver Center of the Arts expansive atrium — perhaps one of the few spaces in Southern California capable of presenting it. This will be accompanied by an exhibition in the Culver’s North Atrium Gallery about the process behind the making of “The Great Picture,” which includes test strips to determine the right exposure in the makeshift airplane hanger pinhole camera, video documentation, and other artifacts.
The third component will be an exhibition in the Sweeney Art Gallery, located just behind the Culver atrium, of work by the six artists that compose The Legacy Project. It will focus on their individual bodies of work created while on site at the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro as part of their 15-year commitment to document the transformations taking place at this historic 4,700-acre site.
–Courtesy of the UCR Sweeney Museum