m15 (in progress)

David Somers bio photo By David Somers Comment
m15 set, 2 of 2, in progress [wet]. 36 off 90mm × 90mm. Ink on paper.
m15 set, 1 of 2, in progress [wet]. 36 off 90mm × 90mm. Ink on paper.

The Plan

Today, another mammoth session creating 72 artworks for a set in the m series. A slight twist: a change in the process. Normally, the substrate (archival paper) is handled by me — literally latex gloved and dunking it into the ink bath (as shown in the video I made when making m5). However, this has some issues. Firstly, as the substrate is flexible and is being manually handled it, the precision with which it can be used to “capture” the image is low. On the one hand this can be seen as an advantage as the flexibility adds an element of chance and therefore the possibility of discovery. On the other hand, the flexibility means handling can be difficult when trying to achieve precision placement and capture. Secondly, that the substrate gets very wet, which means it needs three or four days to fully dry before it can be handled vis-à-vis digitization. Thirdly, the substrate has a tendency to warp, which makes subsequent digitization difficult as some force is needed to keep it flat, and archiving is similar affected by a non-flat surface. For this session I have constructed a prototype jig to carry the substrate, and incorporated guides to, in theory, allow for an exploration of repetition in terms of placement.

prototype jig

The result

Constructing the jig itself was simple, being made of wood, glued together, and a few ancillaries to allow the guides to be positioned and adjusted (fettled).

For captures 1 the 18 (purple and red), the jig was used without guides, to get a feel for how it worked, and the result was good. The ink was placed simultaneously in the bath, the division forming organically. Handling in terms of placement was far easier than anticipated, as was also the wetness.

For captures 19 thru 36 (purple and green), the inks were again placed simultaneously in the bath, but when “capturing” the jig was moved across to induce the vertical ripples. The use of the jig for this was far easier than when previously attempting this sans jig.

For captures 37 thru 45 (orange and blue), again, inks were simultaneously placed in the bath, but a physical barrier was imposed in an attempt to have a more defined division. Only eight captures were made as the dispersion of the ink was not what I was hoping for, so this method was abandoned.

For captures 46 thru 72 (orange and blue), the process was one of sequential overprinting. The guides were applied to the jig and the idea was to “capture” one color to slightly over-bisect the substrate… then overprint later with the second color. By using the guides an element of repeatability was hopefully introduced.

m15 set, 2 of 2, in progress one color [wet]. 36 off 90mm × 90mm. Ink on paper.
m15 set, 2 of 2, in progress overprinted[wet]. 36 off 90mm × 90mm. Ink on paper.

And finally, there were three captures, 73 thru 76, which were interim cleanups. There were completely ad hoc, done for purely practical reasons — removing ink when changing colors — and kept because sometimes amazing things happen on these.


The concept for the jig has worked well in this initial trial. As I had hoped for, the substrate only got wetted on one side, and hopefully this means the drying time will be reduced, as will be the subsequent warping (and all the problems that that brings). The repetition was somewhat achieved, although it was less strict than could be potentially achieved primarily due to the guides having enough flexibility to introduce positional changes between captures. The concept of a jig is a good one, and it needs refinement. The guides needs to be more inflexible but at the same time to somehow allow more flexibility vis-à-vis the “capture” vector.

I was initially disappointed with the barrier-esque method (in 37 thru 45), but having finished all the captures in the set, and looking at them again, I have to reevaluate my position: In particular m15p40 is interesting as there is separation — opposed to an overlay or hard edge — between the colors/protagonists. A new twist. A different possibility. A barrier that is not seem: one alluding to repulsion?

m15p40, in progress [wet]. 90mm × 90mm. Ink on paper.

A quick scan through the raw and still wet captures from this set yields three others that look promising.

m15p44, in progress [wet]. 90mm × 90mm. Ink on paper.
m15p64, in progress [wet]. 90mm × 90mm. Ink on paper.
m15p72, in progress [wet]. 90mm × 90mm. Ink on paper.

A more critical evaluation of this set will happen when they have dried and been digitized.

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