In The Frame: The Vertigo Project – Jean Curran

Posted December 15, 2018 in More

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In The Frame

The Vertigo Project

Jean Curran

The Vertigo Project is a series of twenty dye transfer photographic prints, which I hand made from the original camera negative of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Vertigo. It’s a work of editing and re-presentation in an effort to reveal the artistry of the film in a new and novel way, whilst staying true to the film’s early colour characteristics.

With the full co-operation of the Hitchcock estate, I attained access to the original Technicolor dye imbibition print of Vertigo from 1958 at Universal Studios.

From this print, I edited hundreds of frames down to just twenty. I then made photographic prints from these twenty frames using the same dye transfer printing process that Technicolor used to make the original film.  Dye transfer printing had its heyday in the 1950’s and 60’s and was made famous by artists such as William Eggleston and Irving Penn. Today, I’m one of only a very small few still working with this almost obsolete printing process.

Vertigo was first released in May of 1958 and is now largely recognized as Hitchcock’s greatest achievement. It tells the story of a police detective (Jimmy Stewart) who falls obsessively in love with the woman he has been asked to follow (Kim Novak). Failing to prevent Novak’s character from jumping to her death due to his vertigo, Stewart spirals into a dark state of despair until a chance sighting of a girl who resembles Novak reignites his passion and unravels a complex web of deceit and crime.

Hitchcock’s use of colour throughout the film is deliberate. It subtly informs the viewer of the sinister themes and plot that unfolds throughout the movie. What attracted me to Vertigo is how this use of colour depicts the underlying themes of voyeurism, dark sexual fantasies and loneliness, which are intelligently, yet delicately, interwoven throughout the film. Due to Hitchcock’s rigorous compositions and graphic set ups, Vertigo can not only live within a cinematic context but can comfortably live in a photographic one too.

The first solo showing of this work opens on December 13 at Danziger Gallery, 980 Madison Avenue, New York.


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