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Great Picture on view at park gallery

Exhibit featuring the world's largest photograph taken by a camera obscura comes to the Orange County Great Park.

November 03, 2011|By Imran Vittachi
  • Henry Korn, left, manager of arts, culture and heritage for the Orange County Great Park Corp, stands with photographer Mark Chamberlain in the Great Park Gallery during installation of "The Great Picture" exhibition.
Henry Korn, left, manager of arts, culture and heritage… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

At 11 stories wide and three stories tall, the world's largest photograph has returned to its Orange County birthplace for the first time in five years.

In 2006, a team of six photographers collaborated on the Great Picture project. They turned an F-18 hangar at the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro — known nowadays as the Orange County Great Park — into a pinhole camera.

An exhibition telling the story of the many steps in the photo's creation as part of the park's Legacy Project — an ambitious artistic effort to document El Toro's transition from an air base into a public park through photographs, film and sounds — opens this weekend at the Great Park in Irvine. The public can attend an opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Great Park Gallery.

More than 200,000 pictures taken of the base before, during and after the transformation will go into the park's permanent collection of photographs, said Henry Korn, manager of arts, culture and heritage for the Orange County Great Park Corp.

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The exhibit will include some new installations made individually by members of the team of six photographers, although one of them, Jerry Burchfield, died of cancer in September 2009. In 1973, Burchfield co-founded the BC Space gallery in Laguna Beach with fellow photographer Mark Chamberlain, who was one of the five others on the Great Picture project. The other photographers involved in making the photo were Jacques Garnier, Rob Johnson, Douglas McCulloh and Clayton Spada.

One of the new pieces is an audio installation by Garnier, who placed microphones in buildings around the former base to pick up sounds made inside them. Some of the resulting noises sound like muffled booms.

The Great Picture, which was taken on one piece of fabric imported from Germany, will only be partially visible at the exhibit because there isn't enough room in the gallery to unfurl the whole thing, officials said.

Most of the picture is rolled up on a spindle inside a crate parked in the middle of the exhibit space. The picture's edge is visible from behind the open crate. Visitors, however, will be able to see a smaller reproduction.

The giant picture has arrived back in O.C. after being displayed in full at UC Riverside. This past spring, the photograph was shown at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.

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