Work in progress: Research ink and paper for Paperlight

Best practice for mupi printing

Research.

A couple of years ago I started appreciating mid century modern glass lamps. They may shine an amazing intense, colourful light. Insufficient to relieve any room, but perfect for setting the ambiance. Difficult to photograph. Meanwhile I’ve collected a small number of these certain space age pendant and table lamps from former labels like Fog & Mørup and Peill & Putzler. Purchasing them I quickly discovered some colours work better than others. So the collection also includes some waste of money.

Glass space age table lamp

In the meantime I played around with an advanced mupi, its poster scroller functionality and imagined new possibilities. Also experiencing some colours work different than others when the colour of ink and paper is made visible by backlight.

Followed by the Amsterdam Light Festival’s Call for Concepts, Anton Spruit and I teamed up to bring the above mentioned observations imaginations together, initiating the Paperlight project. We thought a few mupis in a row —or, why not, a full circle— would make a bright graphic choreography. Big surfaces floating up and down, colours dancing and endless varying compositions. An installation at the intersection of our shared interest in art, design and aim for the perfect finishes. Driven by our obsessive attention to detail; ranging from perfecting the smoothest scroll movement, to creating the perfect finish by seeking out the precise colour, ink and stock.

The difference between process and spot colours combined with light

Just after we kicked off the project, we bumped into a proof that convinced us we’re doing right. At the same time two purple posters showed up around Amsterdam. One printed in generic full colour mode using CYMK, resulting in a dull purple. Alright during daylight, but unreal after dark. However, the second poster featured an extremely intense colour. Already better at day, but at its best at night. It turned out this latter poster was custom printed twice, the print featuring two blacks and two purple pantones.

Poster printed in generic full colour, using CYMK
Poster of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam for the Ed van der Elsken exhibition (2017) printed in two blacks and two purple pantones. An excellent resource for Paperlight as it proofs the wider possibilities of ink and paper.
Poster of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam for the Ed van der Elsken exhibition (2017) printed in two blacks and two purple pantones. An excellent resource for Paperlight as it proofs the wider possibilities of ink and paper.

Testing ink and paper for ideal true colours

Because offset printing multiple poster designs in a small edition would financially be out of scope, we had to look into alternatives. Additionally we wanted the prints to be produced partly handmade. So early on we knew we had to find the perfect balance between ink or paint, paper, its transparencies, structure and so on, and light. This research process would be interesting on its own. So in order to get best results, we started figuring out testing a wide range of material for the particular purpose of Paperlight.

Sample made with a biggie marker
Sample made with a biggie marker

Long story short, Paperlight features a bunch of intense, true colours specifically arranged for the occasion.