U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: More to see in NYC (Hint: Sookang Kim)

Re: More to see in NYC (Hint: Sookang Kim)

On Thu, 15 Jan 2009, Keith Gerling wrote:


I'm not being skeptical here, as I certainly trust your impressions,
but why the need for 5 coats of one color?  What do you think
physically is different about a print when the pigment is added in
small doses?  Not that it isn't intriguing...

Actually, Keith, that's a good question... which didn't occur to me at the time, because looking at the delicacy of the prints, it seemed perfectly understandable. Now, called upon to *explain*, I come up with this:

If you look at a 21- step test print of a "regular" gum exposure, you see that gum has a short scale, with a steep slope. That is, the average strip with an average mix/exposure has maybe 5 or 6 steps from "D-max" to paper white. Of course you can get a longer scale by cutting down on the pigment -- and, if memory serves, an exposure with no pigment at all could show maybe 15 or even 17 steps of dichromate stain.

Now I figure that these prints, with their very delicate gradation (from almost white to a complex gray made up of widely spaced "pieces" of black, in a way like an enlargement of pixels, except the dots aren't identical circles, but irregular shapes, which, in the setting, function as "black"), got that way by putting several delicate coats, all in the same black pigment, on top of one another.

Each of those widely spaced irregular "dots" (inflected by the texture of the paper) is, if you get close to it, quite black, but, because they're widely spaced, you see areas as gray, or *grays*. Just one coat of such "dots" would have been too weak to do much, let alone give the *effect* of full tone, or the outlines of objects, which, in 5 coats, become "black outlines." I gather, however, that the process wasn't something Sookang figured out and then did, but arrived at by a lot of trial and error, feeling her way to what "worked."

I'm not sure that's the full/best explanation, but figure it's along those lines.... Hope it makes sense...