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Photogravure
experiments in photo-mechanic print
Opening Date
06/07/2019
Closing Date
17/08/2019
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In June, a group of artists with a background in photography and printmaking were invited to experiment with photogravure, a technique that was developed in the nineteenth century, and combines developments in photography that had matured at the time, and earlier developments from the world of printing. The exhibition presents a series of photogravure prints made by the artists, as well as the process of their work, trial, and error.

In the early nineteenth century, intaglio printmaking was the most commonly used technique for producing science and travel books, and lithography began to take France by storm. Scientist and inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce was born in France in 1765. His professional path began in a completely different field; together with his brother Claude he invented an internal combustion engine. When his brother went to London to pursue business opportunities for their engine, Niépce turned to lithography. Since his inclination was more scientific and less technically artistic, he was interested in using light itself as an “engraver”.

In 1826, Niépce finally succeeded in creating a permanent photographic image of a landscape. He set up a pinhole camera and exposed its photographic plate for eight hours. It was the first successful attempt at creating a photograph. Until then, the photochemical processes of photography did not achieve a permanent image. Niépce created the first permanent images thirteen years before Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, who is usually credited with the invention of photography. Daguerre worked in Paris at the same time as Niépce, and in 1829 they began collaborating. In 1839, Daguerre announced the invention of the daguerreotype, which was remarkable in the standard of its accuracy and detail, but which did not solve the practical need for creating multiple prints.

In the late nineteenth century, the photolithographic process overtook photogravure, since industry eagerly adopted it for cost-benefit considerations. At the same time, Henry Fox Talbot continued to develop photogravure. In contrast with painting, which with the invention of photography was released from the need for realism, from the very beginnings of photography, the pictorialism school became established, which was characterized by an attempt to give photographs the appearance of paintings, thus distancing them from science and transforming them into an art form. Pictorialism was particularly influenced by impressionism, and special printmaking techniques were used to create a poetic and naturalistic style.

The semiotician Charles Sanders Peirce termed the relationship between signifier and signified in photography “indexical”; in other words, the photographed object facing the camera makes the relationship between them natural. In fact, realism is essentially imprinted in the photography genre, and this fact released it from the need to mimic reality.

The photogravure technique is an important milestone in the invention of photography, but also in regarding photography as an art form. One of the first examples is Emerson’s work with photogravure in the late nineteenth century. His work was almost forgotten by the late twentieth century, but today he is considered an influential figure in the photography medium. The technique, which enables nuances in detail and transition between the numerous shades, alongside the “one-timeness” of each print that is contingent multiple variables in the process, imbues photogravure with romance, which has only increased in light of the immediacy of the photographic medium in the present era.

Photogravure is a photomechanical process that was developed to provide a solution to the need for photographed images to be commercially printed, i.e., printed in ink, as opposed to costly duplication in the photographic process. The process is based on an intaglio printmaking technique called “aquatint”, a process that was developed in the seventeenth century and enables areas of color in different tones to be printed in a single printing.

The process in brief: A copper plate is evenly covered with resin powder. When the plate is heated, the resin adheres to the plate, and creates a hatch of acid-resistant dots. The negative mesh created between these dots is dipped in acid in several stages, and creates perforations of varying depths in the copper plate. These perforations are color traps; in other words, once the plate is covered in ink and then gently wiped, the deep perforations will contain a relatively large amount of ink and will be printed as a dark area, while the shallow perforations will contain a small amount of ink and will be printed as a light area.

The depth of the perforations on the plate is determined by a sheet of gelatin tissue that is exposed to the film positive. When the gelatin sheet is exposed to ultraviolet light through a photographic image (film), it hardens according to the degree of exposure to light. Thus, a gelatin plate of varying thicknesses is obtained. The gelatin is attached to the copper plate, and in a series of dips in acid it is consumed. The gelatin effectively functions as a clock. The thin areas will be consumed first and quickly expose the plate to the acid. These areas will be exposed to the acid for the longest time, and will be deep and dark. The lighter areas in the photograph will be the thicker areas of the gelatin sheet, which protect the plate from the acid for a longer time, and will remain shallow, and hence will be printed light.

The workshop was held at the Israeli Center for Digital Art, and focused on a contemporary version of the process: using photopolymer plates, which are sensitive to ultraviolet light, and developed in water rather than acid. Another difference is the use of film that simulates aquatint instead of actual resin powder. The result is very similar in quality to the traditional process.

In recent years, the activities of the Israeli Center for Digital Art have been focusing on the work methods of the various platforms the Center offers to its user community, and on long-term projects. One such platform is a printing press, which is operated in conjunction with Dfus Golem, and equipped with a relief printing press, a manual printing press, and a digital printer. Another is a photography laboratory that opened this year, and which has a darkroom for developing and printing using analog photography techniques. The printing press is used to print exhibition catalogues, for printing workshops, and more. People can work independently in the photography lab, which will also host photography, development, and printing workshops.

The exhibition forms a connection between these two platforms, and in effect summarizes a short experimental artistic process, but it also constitutes a starting point for a process of experimenting and exploring the historical and contemporary combination between these two techniques.

 

The participating artists: Michal Baror, Dafna Gazit, Eyal Danon, Dvir Cohen Kedar, Eldad Menuchin

Project instructors: Eyal Danon, Uriel Har Tuv

Production and curating: Avigail Surovich

 

 

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 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis
 

Photogravure
experiments in photo-mechanic print

In June, a group of artists with a background in photography and printmaking were invited to experiment with photogravure, a technique that was developed in the nineteenth century, and combines developments in photography that had matured at the time, and earlier developments from the world of printing. The exhibition presents a series of photogravure prints made by the artists, as well as the process of their work, trial, and error.

In the early nineteenth century, intaglio printmaking was the most commonly used technique for producing science and travel books, and lithography began to take France by storm. Scientist and inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce was born in France in 1765. His professional path began in a completely different field; together with his brother Claude he invented an internal combustion engine. When his brother went to London to pursue business opportunities for their engine, Niépce turned to lithography. Since his inclination was more scientific and less technically artistic, he was interested in using light itself as an “engraver”.

In 1826, Niépce finally succeeded in creating a permanent photographic image of a landscape. He set up a pinhole camera and exposed its photographic plate for eight hours. It was the first successful attempt at creating a photograph. Until then, the photochemical processes of photography did not achieve a permanent image. Niépce created the first permanent images thirteen years before Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, who is usually credited with the invention of photography. Daguerre worked in Paris at the same time as Niépce, and in 1829 they began collaborating. In 1839, Daguerre announced the invention of the daguerreotype, which was remarkable in the standard of its accuracy and detail, but which did not solve the practical need for creating multiple prints.

In the late nineteenth century, the photolithographic process overtook photogravure, since industry eagerly adopted it for cost-benefit considerations. At the same time, Henry Fox Talbot continued to develop photogravure. In contrast with painting, which with the invention of photography was released from the need for realism, from the very beginnings of photography, the pictorialism school became established, which was characterized by an attempt to give photographs the appearance of paintings, thus distancing them from science and transforming them into an art form. Pictorialism was particularly influenced by impressionism, and special printmaking techniques were used to create a poetic and naturalistic style.

The semiotician Charles Sanders Peirce termed the relationship between signifier and signified in photography “indexical”; in other words, the photographed object facing the camera makes the relationship between them natural. In fact, realism is essentially imprinted in the photography genre, and this fact released it from the need to mimic reality.

The photogravure technique is an important milestone in the invention of photography, but also in regarding photography as an art form. One of the first examples is Emerson’s work with photogravure in the late nineteenth century. His work was almost forgotten by the late twentieth century, but today he is considered an influential figure in the photography medium. The technique, which enables nuances in detail and transition between the numerous shades, alongside the “one-timeness” of each print that is contingent multiple variables in the process, imbues photogravure with romance, which has only increased in light of the immediacy of the photographic medium in the present era.

Photogravure is a photomechanical process that was developed to provide a solution to the need for photographed images to be commercially printed, i.e., printed in ink, as opposed to costly duplication in the photographic process. The process is based on an intaglio printmaking technique called “aquatint”, a process that was developed in the seventeenth century and enables areas of color in different tones to be printed in a single printing.

The process in brief: A copper plate is evenly covered with resin powder. When the plate is heated, the resin adheres to the plate, and creates a hatch of acid-resistant dots. The negative mesh created between these dots is dipped in acid in several stages, and creates perforations of varying depths in the copper plate. These perforations are color traps; in other words, once the plate is covered in ink and then gently wiped, the deep perforations will contain a relatively large amount of ink and will be printed as a dark area, while the shallow perforations will contain a small amount of ink and will be printed as a light area.

The depth of the perforations on the plate is determined by a sheet of gelatin tissue that is exposed to the film positive. When the gelatin sheet is exposed to ultraviolet light through a photographic image (film), it hardens according to the degree of exposure to light. Thus, a gelatin plate of varying thicknesses is obtained. The gelatin is attached to the copper plate, and in a series of dips in acid it is consumed. The gelatin effectively functions as a clock. The thin areas will be consumed first and quickly expose the plate to the acid. These areas will be exposed to the acid for the longest time, and will be deep and dark. The lighter areas in the photograph will be the thicker areas of the gelatin sheet, which protect the plate from the acid for a longer time, and will remain shallow, and hence will be printed light.

The workshop was held at the Israeli Center for Digital Art, and focused on a contemporary version of the process: using photopolymer plates, which are sensitive to ultraviolet light, and developed in water rather than acid. Another difference is the use of film that simulates aquatint instead of actual resin powder. The result is very similar in quality to the traditional process.

In recent years, the activities of the Israeli Center for Digital Art have been focusing on the work methods of the various platforms the Center offers to its user community, and on long-term projects. One such platform is a printing press, which is operated in conjunction with Dfus Golem, and equipped with a relief printing press, a manual printing press, and a digital printer. Another is a photography laboratory that opened this year, and which has a darkroom for developing and printing using analog photography techniques. The printing press is used to print exhibition catalogues, for printing workshops, and more. People can work independently in the photography lab, which will also host photography, development, and printing workshops.

The exhibition forms a connection between these two platforms, and in effect summarizes a short experimental artistic process, but it also constitutes a starting point for a process of experimenting and exploring the historical and contemporary combination between these two techniques.

 

The participating artists: Michal Baror, Dafna Gazit, Eyal Danon, Dvir Cohen Kedar, Eldad Menuchin

Project instructors: Eyal Danon, Uriel Har Tuv

Production and curating: Avigail Surovich

 

 

 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis
 

 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis
 

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