About the Liz prints

This work was photographed in 1995 as a test and practice session for other projects, primarily “Figure Studies”. The technical experiment was to try solarizing Polaroid 665 film, on a black background, with a ring light, to see where the tonal reversals would occur, what artistic potential the look might reveal, and how it could be controlled. I envisioned the background reversing out against the darker outline of the body, obviously inspired by Man Ray. The postures and compositions were spontaneous, we were just trying anything. The evolution of the images took on momentum and life of it’s own as results from Polaroid were immediately reviewed.

The resulting negatives were thin and difficult to print in the darkroom, the complex split toning required to bring the images to life was much too unpredictable. Fourteen years later after significant advancement in inkjet materials and printing software were mastered, an approach worthy of the images was established. A basic ink image using the 3 Ultrachrome blacks as a tritone was set up, then cyan, magenta, and yellow were assigned as spot colors to apply to different parts of the scale as spot channels in Photoshop, all this carefully linearized, limited, and profiled to work on uncoated Arches Cold Press watercolor paper, full decked edge sheets. The degraded quality of the negatives, the grainy look from solarizing, goes hand in hand with the beautiful texture of the cold press cotton paper. In many ways these prints are very different from my other work, some are surprised to see it’s my work. But for me they feel very natural, are an extension and result of my constant fascination with imagery, photography, and art objects that successfully radiate in any compelling way, I’m happy to present this work. The pieces are a solitary female, almost elfin figure, self involved in an internal world, materializing from and/or dissolving into her context, the very materials of the object, the print. In this case, it’s obvious to me how finding a successful approach to the look of the prints made the imagery itself worth pursuing. In many ways these thoughts are totally consistent with my other work. The only way to represent them on line was to photograph the actual prints.

Technical information- These were photographed with a Mamiya RB67 on Polaroid T665 film. After each exposure, the film is pulled from the back to initiate processing, then part way through development the film is exposed to a bright strobe through the paper side, and processing continued to completion. The strength of the strobe, and the duration of initial development took a lot of trial and error, and still the results were always a surprise. I won’t describe the multiple toning and bleaching that was tried in the darkroom, other than to say the results were intriguing, and I never forgot wanting to do much more with the work. After gaining digital imaging and printing skills, I drum scanned the film, and worked on various ways to print. Advances in utilizing a RIP really made these prints possible, as described above. Little to no retouching or altering was done, this is how they were executed when shot, except tinting with the spot channels, for which I followed my own experimentation. They were printed on an Epson 9800, using Epson inks. The core image is a tritone black, a hint of cyan is brought into the near whites, then back out. Magenta and yellow are brought in for the warm mid-tones, which cross to magenta and cyan, brought back in for cold purple to cyan near blacks. I had some of Jon Cone’s gloss optimizer in another printer at the time, and for serendipity’s sake ran a completed test print through. The tone deepened very subtly, and there is the impression you see into the paper just a bit, so I did a gloss optimizer run on all completed prints. The images are 18″ square, positioned slightly high on full 22 x 30″ deckled sheets of Arches Cold Press Watercolor paper.

addendum-10/2013: Pleased to post that numbers 1 and 3 were selected for inclusion in issue #2 of “The HAND”, an impressive new publication featuring a variety of works on paper.

2 responses to “About the Liz prints”

  1. Paul says:

    Two things I loved about this story – the adventurous experimenting that you did back in 95, which perfectly captures the very essence of making art, as opposed to taking pictures. And then the coming together of all your experience in printmaking, which has also been informed by much experimenting, to so many years later realize the completion of the project.

  2. tyler says:

    addendum-10/2013: Pleased to post that numbers 1 and 3 were selected for inclusion in issue #2 of “The HAND”, an impressive new publication featuring a variety of works on paper.

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