On Saturday, the Photographers’ Gallery opens its doors once more after an 18-month refurbishment. A two-storey extension has doubled the available space, enabling the gallery to stage more ambitious shows such as the opening exhibition of Edward Burtynsky’s oil photographs. Sean O’Hagan spoke to gallery director Brett Rogers about the promise of exciting times ahead

so here we are in the photographers gallery and romli Street just about to opened after being closed for over 18 months completely refurbished to new floors and opening with a big show by ed Burtynsky of his oil photographs although people like the quaint nature of the previous gallery in great Newport stream it didn't really offer artists a sense of excitement about what was possible within those spaces especially since it was separated by the arts theater in between so by having everything together in the same space but also having two galleries now that provide sort of facilities that are fit for purpose in the 21st century means that we can attract artists and show work and show bigger shows of work by artists that we've always been interested in doing this really offers us in terms of the floor space double the floor space for exhibitions and it offers me those lovely tall galleries shown that I really really thought were necessary to enable artists to have some flexibility about showing that the donors go it probably would have been impossible to show Burtynsky's work probably looks so exactly to give him the sort of background that he really deserved it to give coherence to the show as it does have now it really sings when you go into that space and I don't think we would have struggled to have create that created that ambience the first time ever Shawn we're going to have an education floor a Learning Center in past everybody who came to the gallery could only attend events in the evenings or when the gallery was closed because we had to convert the cafe into the education space now we can do events during the daytime and all weekend when our aranda floor and that's really providing us with a great opportunity to do a wider range events master classes with photographers and to introduce to permanent fixtures for that program one of them is a camera obscura we've built a camera obscura into the wall to enable people to reflect on the history of optics and how that that early technology affected photography so we go from the digital world in the in the front lobby up to the third floor where we have one of the oldest forms of technology that influence photography the camera obscura and the public will be invited to use the camera obscura themselves it won't be an image later space and you're also going to take about the age we live in the digital age the Internet I've been very aware I'm sure you have too the way that people view photography today is mostly on you know screens either on their computer screens or on their phones so Susan bratatat talked last week mentioned that her students in New York looking at five to seven thousand images a day you know the speed with which they're taking in these images obviously scanning them and not critiquing them anyway it does pose us with quite a challenge as an institution about how do you then and show that work and how do you critique it so we have created this new digital war which we see as a research space really we don't know we've got the answers we've appointed a digital curator we're going to go into partnership with the university as a part of our three-year research exercise to challenge the ideas around the network image and see how is it going to affect the Canon of photography so what will you what would be on that wall when people come in the first week yes they're the the first program is about the animated gift the gift was a file format that was developed at the same time as the web was developed in 1987 and it's undergoing a creative renascence at the moment lots of artists and lots of the public are just playing around with it in an interesting way so we're going to invite participants from the public to share their gifts with us but more importantly we have commissioned about 30 artists produced gifts for us some of them are doing it for the first time and we've given them instructions about how to do it and they're getting really excited Peter can add said thank you for introducing me to the new form of Technology because he hadn't used it before so we are it is a platform for artists and it's a platform to critique and to discuss what's going on in on the web and you've all been with Burtynsky which is entire said quite a crowd-pleasing show what follows that Deutsche boys are dead you don't you buzzer again this year with the first ring very strong list I think it's going to be even IOP ah that's rare one reason that I always loved remedies sweet as the location for the gallery is because I do think that Soho is the natural home of the photographer's gallery and you know Soho is such a lively place you know with fashion new media etc it relates very very much to photography my vision for Emily's street is to create a cultural oasis there it's going to become my Unilever space we are going to go into partnership with our neighbors to try and transform that into an interesting space for photography which will open up new ideas for how photography can be used in the public realm you

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