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Joel Meyerowitz: Taking a walk on the real wild side of New York City

 
 

“Here you can see the softness of that light and its effects that all come through with HP printing. I won’t print on anything else.”

— Joel Meyerowitz, Photographer

A walk in the park

“Come, I’ll show you. Come with me,” says photographer Joel Meyerowitz, giving a preview of his exhibition, “Legacy: The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks.” He’s eager to show a favorite image—a bank of the Hudson River, bridge overhead, sunlight beaming through a humid sky. “At the river’s edge, you can feel the wildness of the original river roaring through.”

Quick Facts

  • Photographer Joel Meyerowitz was commissioned to create a photographic record of New York City’s 29,000 acres of parks.
  • Meyerowitz’s photographs, printed using HP Graphic Arts technology, are now on display at the Museum of the City of New York.
  • The exhibition’s giant, lifelike prints capture the rich detail of the changing seasons and immerse visitors in the parks’ beauty.


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Meyerowitz has documented this landscape and thousands of others for future generations to see. An award-winning photographer, Meyerowitz was commissioned by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to make a photographic record of the city’s 29,000 acres of parks. Having worked with HP in the past, he brought the company in as the primary sponsor for the project.

According to Meyerowitz, the 3,500 photos he took during the three-year archive project impart the sense of losing oneself in the wilderness, which is somewhat surprising for a city known more for its skyscrapers and population density than its nature. “Every major park in the city contains wilderness,” he explains. “I would get myself a little bit lost in the woods. It was as if I were no longer in New York City.”

Galleries without borders

When it came time to exhibit his work at the Museum of the City of New York, Meyerowitz wanted to push conventional boundaries. He sought out a way to use the space in concert with his images, to transport people to the places he visited.

“I looked at the gallery as an opportunity to create a vast space inside of a museum that allows people to experience nature,” Meyerowitz says.

To achieve this atmosphere, Meyerowitz worked with print service provider King Displays and the HP Designjet L65500 Printer with HP Latex Inks to create giant, lifelike prints that would immerse viewers in the parks’ wild beauty.

Joel Meyerowitz

“I’d heard about HP’s brand new printing system and thought of the possibilities of using enormous photographs.”


“I was concerned that the quality might not match the HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer I typically use. But when I saw these new prints, which average 10 feet, I was amazed at the image depth and color quality,” says Meyerowitz.

The extraordinarily large prints have an instant, profound effect. Visitors entering the gallery are immersed in nature, surrounded by wall-to-wall prints. Underneath their feet, a 30-foot floor print of the Bronx River gives the impression of walking on water, while a monumental photograph of a waterfall spills from the far wall.

Preserving a colorful natural history

As visitors move deeper into the gallery, framed prints depict the sea-facing marshes of Brooklyn, the rocky coastline of the Bronx, and swamps and backwoods that conjure images of anywhere but New York City.

All 76 of these impeccable fine art prints were printed in Meyerowitz’s studio using his HP Designjet Z3200 in just four days. However quickly they were produced, the prints are designed for permanence. Meyerowitz explains the archival considerations: “One prejudice in the museum world is that color photos don’t last. But with HP printers and materials, you can count on a 100- to 200-year life.”1

In addition to creating prints that would stand the test of time, Meyerowitz showcased his photos in a limited edition boxed set. The set, released by the Aperture Foundation to coincide with the publication of a trade book about the project, includes an archival print produced on the HP Designjet Z3200 and the trade book. It also includes a second book printed using the HP Indigo press 5500 by A&I Photographic and Digital Services.

Back in the gallery, Meyerowitz points out the Hudson River photo, explaining: “It was a summer day, and the quality of sunlight shining through atmospheric humidity was just dazzling. In another printing process you would lose that. But here you can see the softness of that light and its effects that all come through with HP printing. I won’t print on anything else.”




1 Image permanence estimates by HP Image Permanence Lab based on testing on a range of HP photo, fine art and specialty papers; confirmation tests in progress at Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc. For details, see www.hp.com/go/supplies/printpermanence.