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Modernage Photographics

Exhibition Large-scale Mural lab/darkroom
Modernage Photographics, NYC, 1982

In many ways, what EZTV was to become was as much influenced by a high-end photographic facility in New York City as it was by the emergence of home video.
Founded by Ralph Baum in the 1950′s, New York’s Modernage Photographics pioneered many of the most advanced darkroom techniques in the last half of the 20th Century. A master photographer and technician, Baum was to champion the notion that the art of the photographic print was equally important to the creation of the photographic negative that served as its inspiration.

In addition to Baum, master darkroom technicians or darkroom artists, such as Al Striano and Josef Cernovics, printed many of the most historical and iconic photographic images for museums, major galleries, the most prestigious magazines, and Fortune 500 companies. From Life Magazine to master museum exhibited photographers, Modernage Photographics was the place that achieved the highest standards anywhere.
By the late 1970′s, Modernage Photographics was arguably the most technologically advanced and aesthetically informed resource for high-end museum and publication-quality applications in the art of photography.

Michael J. Masucci served three years at Modernage before relocating to Los Angeles to participate in the founding of EZTV Video Gallery. During his tenure there, he worked on the master printing of numerous photographic masterpieces for clients. Masucci was promoted early to work in Modernage’s most prestigious department, the Exhibition Salon Mural lab, where he, along with his mentor master printer Josef Cernovics, printed some of the largest photographic images then achieved including Richard Avedon’s 110 foot long print of the “Joint Chiefs of Staff” and the equally large print of Avedon’s “Andy Warhol and Gang”.
Masucci’s experience at Modernage informed and prepared him for the next phase of his career, creating large-scale video art projections, in the early 1980′s in Los Angeles.
Among the greatest influence that Modernage instilled upon Masucci, and therefore EZTV, was the notion that commercially available hardware was often inadequate to achieve the highest levels of production. At Modernage, Masucci and his mentors would often work with chemists, optical physicists, and manufacturers to design new lenses, chemical formulas, and printing technologies, as well as modify existing, often classic, and irreplaceable devices - some were the only ones of their kind.
Masucci adapted this ‘hot-rod’ approach to video, first with modifying low-end video equipment in order to create his early “Standing Waves” series of videos, and then ultimately, to adapt primitive desktop computers to greatly expand and enhance the graphics capability of early EZTV.

Standing Waves, 1980-1982

Excerpts from Michael J. Masucci's "Standing Waves" series of large scale abstract real-time video-art projections for LA's and West Hollywood's pre-rave club culture.