Justin and Barbara Kerr
JW: My name is Joshua Wilson, I’m here with James Curtin, and today, Wednesday, July 19, 2013, we have the great pleasure of interviewing Barbara and Justin Kerr about their relationship with Dumbarton Oaks over the years. Thanks so much for being with us, Barbara.
BK: Oh, you’re welcome. You’re very welcome.
JW: So, we understand that you and Justin were involved in theater photography, fashion photography and the like, before you actually transitioned to photographing pre-Columbian objects in the late 1950s, is that right?
BK: Yes, that’s correct. Actually, we both got interested in pre-Columbian stuff and little by little transitioned into that and dropped a lot of our other business.
JW: What motivated that transition and fueled your interest in, and passion for, pre-Columbian art?
BK: Actually, it was a trip that Justin and I did, to Chichen Itza – actually our first trip to Mexico. And we just walked into the site one morning and were totally blown away. We were just entranced, and said, “We’ve got to find out what this is all about.” And that’s what got us started on this kind of crazy journey of getting interested in the material and the people and, you know, all the other stuff that goes with it. Actually, I can’t even explain it, but something came over both of us at the same time, which was very fortunate.
JW: Do you remember any objects in particular that have stuck with you over the years, in memory, from that trip?
BK: From that trip, no. We just made a mad dash to go to as many sites as we could cram in.
BK: And that did it for us. The next year, we took a vacation and went right back, and, again, went to about nine different sites in our two weeks. I mean, it was just really kind of crazy, but we just felt we had to see everything quickly, and go to museums. And then we started to do some studying on our own, and we took some courses, and I think we just had an affinity for it or something.
JW: So, when and how did you come to be involved with Dumbarton Oaks?
BK: Well that started with, I guess – I’m trying to remember. [To Justin] Do you remember how long ago or when we got involved at Dumbarton Oaks? What was that first trip over there?
JK: This is Justin.
JW: Hi Justin, nice to speak with you.
JK: Hi. One of the first books that we bought during the first year that we were home was the rather large coffee-table book of the Dumbarton Oaks collection that was photographed by Nicolas Mouret. Of course, at the time, being photographers, I was absolutely fascinated with the techniques he used in that book. That kind of led us to Dumbarton Oaks, and we tried at the time to stay abreast of what was happening. We found that the Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, was on display at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and, as a matter of fact, there were some photographs of that exhibition and an article by Julie Jones in a recent book on the history of the Blisses and their connection with Dumbarton Oaks. In any case, we went down to Washington, and I then found out that Dumbarton Oaks was publishing a number of small volumes on various symposia that they had, which we started to buy and collect, and they’re still sitting on the bookshelves. That was probably our initial connection to Dumbarton Oaks, but in those years, as we started to photograph pre-Columbian objects, one of the dealers that we were photographing for was one of the dealers that was actively showing objects at Dumbarton Oaks. So, we were getting some sort of information back and forth in those years.
BK: Yeah, well, that was just another eye-opener in the sort of journey that we were on, and our customers, clients, whatever you would call them, were at that time mostly people who were gallery owners or collectors. We didn’t know anything about the business, as it’s so-called. It’s morphed into something completely different now, so that, with the website, and scholars, students, accessing it constantly, I feel truly that it changed the way of study, in that there was such a large sample available now, and that’s something they didn’t have before. So, if you were an epigrapher or studying the, you know, whatever, art history, you could go and look at thousands of vases, and sort of have – and it’s still not enough, but at least it was a background to start with. So, where were we in the question?
JK: We were – the question was, how did we get involved with Dumbarton Oaks. I guess I’m not sure of what year it was, but we did start to attend the symposia at D.O. and those days we would drive down, or drive down with somebody, and enjoy – I think that’s the right word, “enjoy” – enjoy the atmosphere at Dumbarton Oaks, and of course after some time we realized that many of the people that we knew were Fellows at Dumbarton Oaks, people that we worked with such as Mary Miller, David Joralemon, Michael Coe, and so forth and so on. And so there was always a kind of a connection to Dumbarton Oaks through those people.
JW: Do you remember any of your initial impressions of the institution?
BK: Well, I remember thinking that it was beautiful. It was like a beautiful piece of crystal, all the glass, Plexi- and, I mean, just the whole atmosphere of it was like looking at a beautiful sculpture and beautiful crystal. That was my first impression, and then, of course, looking at the objects – there were so many things that we had never seen before, and even the controversial ones became very interesting, like the birthing figure. But every piece there was an exciting thing, and much later on we photographed the Peruvian material. Unfortunately, we never got that involved with Peruvian material. We were mostly interested in Central American countries, and when we discovered the Maya we were really excited, because that’s the best painted pottery there is of all the cultures, most diversified and interesting, beautifully drawn. So, there’s no one object, is what I guess my answer would be. Oh, textiles, South American textiles: simply gorgeous!
JK: I know there was a question about which of the Dumbarton Oaks objects – and I think that for me that’s an absolutely impossible question to answer since each one of the objects brings its own particular personal story. And just to spend some time getting involved with a particular object doesn’t lend to saying, “Well, I like you better than I like this fellow over here,” because very often some insignificant little object all of a sudden carries an incredible story, and one doesn’t want to ignore those kinds of things. For example, there are some objects in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection with Maya hieroglyphs on them, and they were quote “J’s” at one point in time, but when the epigraphers started to be able to read the text, then these objects took on an entirely different significance. So, these kinds of things do happen. And of course that’s one of the areas that makes Dumbarton Oaks so very, very special, and that is the fellowship program, where you have people constantly either working with the Collection or working around the Collection, and enhancing the knowledge of everybody who is interested in the area.
BK: I was just looking at some things here, and talking about the rollout camera, and that was very exciting because – I should let Justin talk about that, since that’s his baby, but –
JK: Well, prior to the rollout camera, since we were making photographs for various collectors and dealers, at one point in time, one of the dealers asked us to make a three-dimensional poster of one of the vases to be distributed to collectors and museums and so forth and so on. And the problem was, of course, there was no rollout camera at the time, and we made a series of still photographs. Then Barbara made – I think, it must have been about twelve prints around various aspects of the vase. And then Barbara cut along various lines, pasted it all together, and that was one of the first rollouts that we had made, first photographic rollout. Then Barbara hand-colored it, re-photographed it, and we had it printed with tabs A and B, that go into slots A and B. And you did that and, by goodness, you had a three-dimensional vessel that you could put on the shelf. And I believe there’s still one or two lying, sitting on shelves in various museum offices in various parts of the country. However, it was terribly unsatisfactory, extremely time-consuming. It wasn’t 150% accurate. And in, I guess it was 1974 or 1975, 1972 –
JK: – that – What?
JK: that I started on the Grolier show.
BK: Yeah. Somewhere around there.
JK: Somewhere – no, I think – well, somewhere around there, Michael Coe asked me to make the photographs for the catalogue of the Grolier show, which was essentially the very first major show using Maya vessels and dealing with the texts. And when that volume was finally finished and published, many of the vessels in that catalogue were presented with drawings, rollout drawings, of the vessels. And I felt that there had to be a better way, and so I started to explore the concept of – what was it called? – peripheral photography, photographing the outside of a cylinder. Michael Coe told me that there was a camera being used in England to photograph cores of the oil wells from the North Sea. I found there were some other details. I found, as a matter of fact, that a company in Chicago was making an attachment that was a peripheral device, but in inquiry they told me they weren’t doing it and wouldn’t. So, I started to put some parts together, and I think it was about two years later that I had the first prototype, essentially, of a rollout camera. And things progressed rather quickly after that, in that a very, very dear friend of ours, Gillette Griffin, who was curator of Pre-Columbian at the Princeton Art Index at the time, had acquired the vase that’s now known as the Princeton Vase, and they wanted to do a catalogue and a show to celebrate that acquisition. And Gillette called and said, “Is the rollout camera ready?” And I said yes. And after some discussion and so forth and so on, the very, very first volume called Lords of the Underworld, written by Michael Coe, published by the Princeton Art Museum, is essentially the very, very first book to be published with photographic rollouts. Other volumes, including a Dumbarton Oaks folio, had been published previously, but they were all drawings and watercolors rather than photographs, beautifully done to say, but the photograph is the hand of the artist. It’s not a copy of – in other words, I felt somehow that scholars would want to look at the specific hand of the original painter rather than the hand of a contemporary painter who was copying the Maya painter. And so, it kind of grew like Topsy, in that, after Lords of the Underworld, a gentleman by the name of Pearlman also had a collection that he wanted published, and again Michael Coe wrote the text. We did the rollouts, Harvard designed the book, and there was still another book. Then there was Francis Robicsek, who published a book on the codex vases, and all the rollouts in that volume were also ours. And so all of a sudden – and that was how it started.
JW: Could you describe the process of photographing D.O.’s Pre-Columbian Collection?
BK: [To Justin] Could we describe the process of photographing D.O.’s collection?
JK: Well we have really never photographed the D.O. collection in its entirety. We only photographed a few objects. We have rolled out all of the – no, that’s not 100% true – we rolled out, I guess, 90% of the cylinder vases in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection over time. They weren’t all done at the same time. As a matter of fact, I think the last one was only done about two years ago. It was – I think we must have been away at the time we were doing the rollouts, so we never got to do it. So, we came – we were invited to come down – and it was done at that point. And then we’ve also photographed a few other objects in the Collection, but the vast majority of the photographs of the Dumbarton Oaks material is done by the Dumbarton Oaks photographer.
JW: We understand you that used some distinctive methods and techniques in addition to the rollout. For example, you transitioned from film to digital photography; you use five lights when you’re photographing for a dramatic effect, it might be called. Could you tell us a little bit about those choices?
JK: Yes. Once I – we really got involved in and photographing the pre-Columbian material – I began to wonder how the original artist saw the object, and could I somehow make a photograph that would emulate that? And I realized that that was absolutely impossible, but I would generally study each object and try and bring something to it which would allow it to be studied, but at the same time to enhance whatever could be enhanced. And it’s been pretty successful. I know the photographs have been emulated by a number of much, much younger photographers over time, and I say “successful” in that I don’t know at this particular point in time how many volumes have been illustrated with the photographs that we’ve done, but they are numerous. And, as a matter of fact, just the other day the latest, the newest volume, The Spectacle of the Late Maya Court by Mary Miller and Cody Brittenham arrived, which is chockfull of our photographs. We’re very, very proud of that particular project. So, that’s – but it’s difficult to explain in that sometimes it’s almost a sense-thing, that you see the object in front of the camera and you want to know more about it, want to say, how can I enhance this? And beyond that I don’t think I can explain it very well.
BK: Well, I can add to that, that people have said when they go through a book they could always immediately recognize Justin’s photographs because they are dimensional, they live in space, whereas the other photographs are usually a little textbooky-looking, sort of flat. [To Justin] So, that’s what by five lights he meant, [To JW and JC] because most photographers, when they have to go on location, will carry two or three lights at most. But we have always used – wherever we needed highlighting and background lightning, we always used many more lights than that. So, that was my part of that.
JW: Maybe you could give us an example of an object that you saw and the thought-process that you went through in determining how best to bring it into three dimensions, to make it live in space, as Barbara says.
BK: It’s a spur of the moment thing, I mean –
JK: For one thing, on the website, mayavase.com, right now there are close to two thousand – aside from the rollouts, in portfolio – there are about somewhere around two thousand individual photographs. Each one is a unique situation, each one was put down in front of the camera, studied, moved, turned, twisted – not twisted, that’s wrong – but turned, lit, and tried in a certain sense, to bring it to life, to give it dimension, to give it space and a kind of a personality. Again, it’s a very difficult area to explain. I think one would have to be a poet in order to really explain the photographer’s attitude towards the object.
JK: It’s one of the reasons I’ve essentially stayed away from photographing paintings. Many many, many, many times I’ve been asked to do that. I’ve said, “I’m sorry, I don’t do that, because I don’t feel that I can express myself photographing a flat object, it just doesn’t – there’s nothing there.” You just light it and shoot it.
JW: So, that’s what drew you to the Maya vases in particular – because they allowed you to better express yourself?
BK: Well, that would be, I’d say, the other objects. I think what drew us to the Maya vases was the fact that they were – that they told a story, they had writing on them, even if we couldn’t understand it at the time. But they had writing. The only culture in Mesoamerica that employed writing, or maybe the Zapotec?.
JK: There may be some writing on the Zapotec vessels. But it’s iffy; and there may be some writing on Teotihuacan vessels, but that’s a little iffy. But once I started to do the rollouts, the vessels, the Maya vessels, became a true passion, and – again I can’t remember the year – but in the fourth year of Linda Schele’s long workshops, which go back a very, very long time, she asked me to lead a workshop in the study in the iconography of the paintings and the carvings and the incising on Maya vessels. And I really can’t come up, but I think that went on for about twenty-six years, and just this past January was another, was probably the last workshop at the Maya Meetings in Austin following through with Linda Schele’s original goal. So, the vessels, aside from the photography of them, became more than that. They were objects to be studied and lots to be learned about, essentially about the ancient Maya, because the stone monuments are one story, and the physical sites themselves are another story, and the vessels that were buried with the Maya – and that’s what most of them were – are still an additional story. And we have learned – when I say we, I mean the community of Mayanists who’ve learned an enormous amount about the society from the study of these vessels.
JW: So, based on the research in preparation for this interview, we learned that you had composed many volumes on Maya vases and you had also compiled an online database, which you’ve mentioned. How do you think these resources can be best utilized by scholars?
JK: Well, as I said, since I was doing these workshops once a year at the Maya meetings, the word about the vessels and the rollouts started to get around. But there was at that particular time no way to distribute them except the batches that I would bring with me to Austin, which were Xeroxed by the dozens. And scholars, people like David Stuart and Nikolai Grube and Steve Houston, would come to the studio here in New York and go through the volumes, anything new and so forth and so on, and make copies here and so forth. Then one day I said to Barbara or Barbara said to me, it’s hard to remember, “Maybe we ought to start publishing,” because all there was at the time was the Princeton book The Lords of the Underworld, the Pearlman book, Old Gods and Young Heroes, and the Robicsek book. And so we put together some money and published Volume I of the Maya Vase Book series. It was very successful, and we were then able to publish Volume II and so forth and so on, up until we finished volume VI. By the time we finished Volume VI, mayavase.com was already online, and most people were using the online database rather than the printed volumes, although every once and a while we still get a call for someone who would like one of the physical books. And the online database, mayavase.com, I think now is somewhere in the vicinity of one eighteen hundred rollouts, and they are, I think, constantly accessed by scholars and interested laypeople all over the world. I’m amazed at some of the queries that we get from various parts of the world. There’s been a book printed in China, a book printed in Japan, a book printed in Norway, and so forth and so on. So, the database has become a tool for Maya scholars that is, I think, unparalleled anywhere else. And I hope, of course, that, it will continue to live in the – I guess it’s called the Cloud these days, or cyberspace.
JW: The Cloud I guess. Hey, y’all still there?
JK: Oh sure, we’re still here.
JW: So, have you gotten any feedback from scholars about your photographs?
BK: That’s a constant thing. Well, the rollouts, they are what they are.
JK: The rollouts are – Barbara, that’s a very good line – the rollouts are what they are. Naturally, there are some vessels that get a lot more attention than other vessels because they’re either more spectacular or they have what some scholars feel is more information than others. However, my feeling has always been that even a minor vessel needs to be available – when I say minor vessel: say, something with just two figures on it, or something of that nature – because there is always the possibility that it will be meaningful for somebody’s thesis or master’s thesis or even a high school paper. And so, that is why I felt that I wanted to record every single vessel that came along.
BK: I tend to sometimes question his choices. I’ll say, “Oh, that is a really ugly thing, or completely battered,” and I tend to like the aesthetically beautiful things. But Justin will say, “But there’s information on it that somebody may be able to use, so therefore it’s valuable.” So these decisions kind of go in between those two ideas. But I’m happy with what’s been put up on the Web. I think it’s all important enough, certain people will find certain things they want and look for.
JK: I’m constantly being asked if I have a vessel hidden away for whatever reason, and my answer is absolutely not. If it’s been rolled out and I think it’s real, it’s on the Web, or in the Vase Books. But at this particular point every single rollout that we’ve done is on the Web and accessible, so there’s nothing hidden. It has always been our philosophy that nothing is to be hidden; that scholars and laypeople alike should have access to all of the information. I know that there has been criticism over the years: “Well, we can’t publish because we don’t know everything about it yet,” and so forth and so on, and let’s get it out there and see what it really means, or what somebody thinks about it. And in many, many cases, of course, scholars have been wrong and have had to correct themselves, or other people have corrected them, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s part of the ongoing scholarship. There’s always some new take, some new way, of looking at material, of studying it, and I’m not necessarily talking about scientific methodology, which also of course is very useful when, for example, when archaeologists began to use carbon-14 dates, it changed the picture enormously. And so, yes, that’s part of it. But it’s also the study, and the trying-to-determine the specifics sometimes, of what a particular character or drawing – what that actually represents. Professor Karl Taube – many, many times the public has said, the way he puts it, that, “without Justin’s database I couldn’t do my work,” because this is essentially become – I don’t want to say the source, but to some people it is. I was having breakfast some months ago with Steve Houston of Brown University, and he said, “Hey, you know Justin,” he says, “almost every single day, I go to mayavase.com and look up something and check out something,” so when I hear something like that of course it makes me and Barbara feel that all of the years and time and effort that we’ve put into this is worthwhile.
JK: I need a drink of water, I’ve talked too much. Barbara, you take over.
JW: So, you’ve recently promised a gift of your archives to Dumbarton Oaks, the so-called, Kerr Photographic Archive. Could you tell us why you decided to donate this collection to Dumbarton Oaks as opposed to somewhere else?
BK: We agonized over where it should go. We rejected museums largely because museums aren’t always the best study place for people to go and study material in-depth; and we rejected universities because things are changing and they will always have new people messing around and changing the database. And we selected Dumbarton Oaks because we felt that that was a true scholarly organization where true scholars would use the materials to the fullest extent that was possible. But we also made a stipulation, that we want the database to continue being online and to be accessible to everybody, and I hope that that will be fulfilled, because I think that’s the important function that it has, not stashed away in some secret basement room. So, we’re hoping that that will, because having that sample does accelerate the study, and that’s the important part of all this.
JK: One of the problems essentially with an archive in an institution means that scholars have to go to that institution: it means them either getting a grant or finding the time, and so forth and so on, whereas when it’s online all they have – I’m assuming that everybody’s got a computer these days, and an internet connection – all they do is sit down and do the research that way. In the database, there are lots of – I shouldn’t say lots of – there are many articles that are connected directly to a vessel with interpretations by various people, and so we’ve had contributions to the database from the very best minds in the field. And, again, that’s online for people to study. I’ve always felt that scholars who hold things back aren’t really fulfilling their duty, so to speak.
BK: I’ll agree with that.
BK: I said, I’ll agree with that.
JK: Okay, fine. Good.
JW: Could you tell us about the people you’ve worked most closely with at Dumbarton Oaks?
BK: Well, Joanne Pillsbury of course, when she was there, because she’s the person that we contacted to see whether there was any interest in our giving –
JK: And Emily Jacobs.
BK: – yeah, in our giving the archive. And Emily Jacobs.
JK: And Juan Antonio.
BK: Juan Antonio Murro.
JK: And Rona.
BK: Oh, that’s recent.
JK: That’s recently, yes, right, yeah.
BK: The archiver.
JK: And, oh well, when he was here –
BK: And Dylan.
JK: And Dylan, of course, yes.
BK: Otherwise, aside from – really Joanne and Emily were instrumental in our, you know, in making our decision and contacting them. I was really gratified because Joanne called back almost immediately after she got my letter and said yes, so that saved me a lot of work of looking for other places. D.O. was the place of choice, and it worked out beautifully, so, we’re happy. I assume everybody will be.
JW: So, we’re coming to the end of the interview. We’ve got a couple more questions just to clarify some of the things that have been discussed and to bring up some points that aren’t necessarily related with Dumbarton Oaks but that are important to your identities as photographers of Mayan objects. So, for example, we understand that, in addition to photographing objects, you also restore them. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about the interplay between those two facets of your professional life?
BK: Yeah, I started to do some restoration – I was never trained in restoration, but I have had art training, so, you know, I know paints and colors and all that stuff. And ironically, I learned because people requested it, and I had to learn. The first thing I did was – the dealer gave me a small bowl, and said, “Can you restore this?” It was broken. And I said, “I don’t know, I’ve never done this before.” And he said, “Oh it’s not that hard, just do it.” And I did. And the same thing happened with – I do some graphic art, graphic design – and the same thing happened there with Ed Merrin at the Merrin Gallery; he asked me to design a poster, and at that point I said, “I’ve never designed a poster,” and he said, “Just do it.” So, I did. And that’s how so many things happened, because it forces you to look into what’s required, and you just do it, and it was like second-nature to me. So, I did restoration for quite a few years, up until quite recently, when there’s not the demand any longer, nor is the money available to museums and galleries to spend it on restoration. So, you get a couple really bad jobs done in-house, so to speak, that didn’t come out of my hands. The way it related to the photography side of things is that, often, if they were objects we wanted to have for the databases, either one of them, and we asked the owner whether it was okay for us to put it on the web, and usually they’d say yes. And we’d tell them that whatever we photograph we copyright and we make it available if necessary. Very few people have objected to that idea. A couple have, but they always give in, maybe because they can’t get rollouts anywhere else. But they usually agree to our thinking on that. And Justin would photograph a lot of things for me, before-and-after photographs, stuff like that. So, we kind of interacted. And I was doing styling when we were doing the really commercial photographs, so I was always available to run out and get props and things. And I think that’s the way we interact mostly. Wouldn’t you say, Justin?
JK: Yeah. One of the things that Barbara did was to learn Photoshop and do some restoration right on the picture of the vessel rather than on the vessel itself, and of course this is very pleasing to a lot of scholars, since they feel that the original should always stay untouched. But, at the same time, when you do restoration of a vessel, it enhances it very often, and it makes it easier to study and so forth and so on. So, for example, there’s a vessel that was excavated from Burial 165 at Tikal, which is online, and it’s the – when you see it, it’s all cracked and busted and awful. But there is a link right on the page and there is the retouched version, and it’s a much more beautiful, much, much easier to study, without all the interference of the broken lines.
BK: The problem is that you get restorers who are very good technically, but they don’t know Maya iconography or the writing, and very often you’ll see some pretty weird combinations of things because that’s what they thought it might look like. And you really need the individual knowledge. It would be like restoring Egyptian things without knowing the writing system, or without knowing how it looked. So, that’s the danger in restoration, and I think that’s what scholars worry about – is that they’re going to base some conclusions on somebody’s idea of what it should look like. I really pride myself on doing the research and knowing enough about it that I can do a very good job of not making up anything. If it has to be made up in total that way, it’s better not to do it. And that’s sort of what I follow.
JK: Yeah, no. So, I’m not sure you’re – but there are literally hundreds and hundreds of reproductions, fakes, floating around in the world, and sometimes people send us photographs of these things: “My father bought it in Guatemala forty years ago,” and things of that nature. And I have to say that in most cases they turn out to be spurious, and one has to be always on the alert in dealing with any kind of artifact, whether it’s a book or a manuscript, a vessel, from every culture. There has been this kind of stuff, and we kind of pride ourselves on the fact that we are able to recognize, in most cases, I would say within almost ninety-nine percentile, that we can spot that it’s quote “not right.”
BK: Or at least that much we can. Because we approach it from the viewpoint of what’s wrong with this, and a very careful, knowledgeable restorer can really fool you though.
JK: Oh, absolutely.
BK: There’s a big difference between restoration and making it up, because restoration means that you’re working with the original material pieces. And certainly the thing you don’t want to do is make up anything.
JK: In the forward to the Maya Vase Books, I have written, essentially addressed to scholars, that in looking at rollouts, if they feel that something is wrong, then let them follow their own feeling about it, because it may be wrong, I may have missed it, and so, that there is always a kind of warning out there: don’t take everything at face value. Study it; make sure you’ve got it right.
JC: Great. My name is James Curtin, I’ve been sitting in, and I was curious if you could briefly give us an overview of the mechanics of the rollout process, how you go about getting the photographs from the image to the page.
JK: Right. We’ve published essentially the technique in the first volume in Lords of the Underworld, but it’s fairly simple in that the vessel or in some cases the object, but we’ll talk about the vessel, sits on a turntable, and using a film camera, where the film is moving at the same speed as the surface of the vessel in the opposite direction, it essentially peals the image off the vessel and onto the film. It’s that simple and that complex at the same time. It’s really – I did not invent the process; the process has been known in the photography business, photography field, for a very, very long time. The very, very early photographers were extremely inventive. However, there was never any real use for the process. It was almost a kind of a situation where solid geometry was never used until somebody had to design a propeller, and the rollout, the peripheral photography, was not useful for anything –
BK: For cores.
JK: – except, yeah, for cores, but for recording the vessels it was almost the ideal situation.
BK: We’d end up with a negative of a strange proportion, because it had to be fairly long for a normal sized pot, and then that would get printed in the regular manner, like you print any other negative. In this case, they were positives. Or you send it directly to the printer and the printer would then make a plate and proceed like with any other ones. Of course, now, this is being done digitally. We don’t have a digital camera, but Justin is working on one. Now we just send the digital files to the printer, and presumably what we see on our computer they will see, because we calibrate constantly and assume that they are doing the same, so the results are very, very good. But that’s the whole process.
JW: So, we’re coming to the end of our hour together, and I was wondering if there’s anything that James and I have neglected to ask you about that you would like to discuss.
BK: [To Justin] Anything you’d like to discuss that we haven’t talked about?
JK: Oh, I guess the only thing we haven’t discussed is essentially the future. And, of course, when has not been decided as yet, as we explained at the meeting, the archive meeting that we had a few months ago. As long as Barbara and I have the strength to continue to operate the archive, we will do so, and when that doesn’t happen anymore, then the material will be moved to the archives at D.O. Of course, the whole concept today of moving into the digital age, which is moving so fast that sometimes it takes your breath away – and I realize that it is difficult in some senses for some institutions to catch up in a way, and a few libraries I know have allowed people to come in and digitize the entire thing. Of course, there always have to be protections, and so forth and so on, but the whole concept of moving forward digitally is something that’s absolutely necessary.
BK: I’d agree. That’s where it’s going.
JW: Well, this has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you both so much for your time.
BK: Well, thank you.
JK: Thank you.
BK: It’s been our pleasure.