21 Nov Marnie Powers-Torrey on the Space of Intermedia
When working with a line drawing, there really is no translation— a slight shift in dialect, perhaps, but essentially what you scan is what your letterpress print will say. If the drawing is in charcoal or a variety of ink concentrations, then the system is no longer binary— grays are introduced onto the scene.
The same methodology can be applied to photographs, which depend on a comparison of tones to be legible. The lower the contrast, the greater number of values represented and necessary to read the image. By increasing the contrast, we decrease the number of tonal values and move the image closer to a binary system.
As a photo-printmaker, I’ve been attempting to satisfactorily convert a graded tone to a binary system for years, with some successes and some less impressive results. In the late nineties and over the digital bump of the year Y2K, I used halftone screens, traditional or with a stochastic pattern, to produce ortholitho negs in a darkroom. These contact negatives were then used to expose an intaglio or relief plate. This process felt very direct and logical, the only real technical variable during pre-press being the length of the exposures (35 mm film to sheet film; sheet film to plate).