Re: Kim Sookang
On Tue, 28 Oct 2008, Loris Medici wrote:
I've just gotten back here after several days of (fill in the blank), so I haven't had a chance to see the site cited above yet... but my impression of the first part of the description below is that it may give the wrong impression.
It seems to read as if those multiple coats from a single negative go on top of each other before exposure -- a near-impossibility -- as each coat would melt into the previous coat and form basically one color. The last two sentences are clearer, mentioning "subsequent layers" and "each exposure."
I'll add that what I saw Sookang (and as I recall, isn't her name Sookang Kim? -- it was 20 or more years ago, so I can't be sure, but "Kim Sookang" sounds wrong) do from her VERY FIRST print (in my "nonsilver" class at Pratt) was uncanny, as if she were born after perfecting the technique -- but it was one coat at a time, dried, exposed, developed by spray, brushing, and other differentiating strategies, then dried, recoated, & repeated by feel, desire, instinct, inspiration, whim or whatever, until she was satisfied... In other words, all from the same monochrome negative, but not all coated at once.
I'll add by the way that most students used that method or a variation of it, generally to lesser effect (tho not always), given how new they were to the processes. Of course, that was long before every student shot color and had the software for color seps. Sookang's were remarkable from day
one, tho I gather she's continued to refine and advance her vision and technique. Photo majors did regular "photo color" in other classes, but in a single "Non-silver" semester (one class a week), 5 or 6 processes + negs kept them busy.
In the 16 years I taught that class, just 2 students made color seps (by enlarger, on large format film, with tri-pack color filters). The class was terrifically impressed, but the project was too arduous and results too uncertain to tempt them. For gum color they were much more likely to go the way of SooKang (which I believe other gum courses, like Sara Van Keuren's also used -- and probably now that I think of it, "gum printing" in all the "Alternative Photography" books that came out in the '70s and '80s).
And here, at the risk of being kicked off the team, I'll add that I can't help wondering if the precision methods for getting "correct" color in gum under discussion here lately were the curriculum in a class like that, would Sookang and other students have been so freely creative? I mean if the goal is "correct" literal, realistic, photographic scale, detail, separation, color, etc., why mess with poison? Inkjet prints on a slightly textured paper could do that perfectly --and are often stunning.
"...Sookang’s creative process involves laying multiple coats of pigment onto photographic paper using a single monochrome negative. The artist then carefully brushes the color, thinning it out in certain places and removing it completely from others, thus creating fine texture and accentuating shades. The accumulation of translucent layers gives “body” to each print; with each subsequent layer the images come into being. Each exposure mediates, as it were, an additional trace of the subject..."