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THE ENLARGEMENT

 




6. The Enlargement
From my window thinking of a window at Le Gras
(16th September 1824, Joseps Nicéphore Niepce to his brother Claude: “I have the satisfaction of being able to tell you that … I have succeeded in obtaining a picture which is as good as I could wish.... It was taken from your room at Le Gras”).

Sometimes I went to my window and looked down in the courtyard. I knew that there was a shop out there, selling photographic equipment and I perfectly remembered the sign: Agfa, general equipment for photography. However, I had never thought about this in connection with Niepce's only existing photo. I have photographed the courtyard with an Agfa film and I printed the frame so as to read the word Agfa on the edge of the film. Then I enlarged it so that it was possible to see, in small letters down below, the company's name. In the end I have chosen that detail, the shop sign, as the only element of the photograph. In this case, the film, object and name, becomes the subject. In the frame you see the courtyard but not the shop sign and the name Agfa is not in the image but on the film. In the second part of this sequence the shop sign begins to emerge; in the third and last part the sign has been enlarged at the maximum and it consists of clumps of silver salts. As a result the structure of the sensitive surface is visualized: the silver salts compose the word Agfa which tells what photography has become as a product, that is an instrument of abuse and manipulation, the exact opposite of what Niepce hoped when experimenting with the sensitive surface.