analogue print

The May Queen and other poems / Alfred Lord Tennyson ; designed, written out and illuminated by Alberto Sangorski.

8x10 gelatin silver contact print

The Detroit Public Library, 3/24/16

Marco Lorenzetti

Rubricated and illuminated.

Colophon: “This manuscript, selected poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson, The May Queen, The sea fairies, The beggar maid, Hero to Leander, and Dora was designed, written out, and illuminated by Alberto Sangorski for Messrs. R. Rivière & Son bookbinders & booksellers to H.M. King George V. London. This manuscript will not be duplicated. This manuscript was executed by me [signed] Alberto Sangorski London A.D. 1912.”


Untitled by lemonhats
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Parcours Pictural: Dots and Pixels of Comics

Greg Shaw’s Parcours Pictural (2005) opens with the noisy black color page. If you look closely, you can see that there are small Ben-Day dots of blue, red, yellow, and black. Panel-by-panel, colours are separated by each: first blue, and then yellow. These four colours of CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black)) are primary colours of printing. Printed matters such as graphic novels — like Parcours Pictural —, comic books, comic strips or self-published zines are still the most popular medium for reading comics. By representing the primary printing colours, Shaw signifies this critical relationship of a printed medium and comics.

It is intriguing that Parcours Pictural represents the colour as a Ben-Day dot. The poor quality of Ben-Day dots printing was one of the indicators of the low art state of comics as Liechtenstein’s amusing appropriation famously showed. However, a half-century later, it has become a cool cultural image. 

A decade ago, some artists around the Atlantic Ocean started experimenting comics without representation, i.e., abstract comics. As modern art eschewed representation as mere mimesis, comics’ embrace of it engendered disregard of comics as low art. As one of the first abstract comics, it is not surprising then that Parcours Pictural deploys the Ben-Day dots, which symbolize the high and low art division as Liechtenstein’s appropriation works.

In a later chapter, squares of shades with diverse colours, reminiscent of pixilation, appear. This similarity to pixilation suggests the computer image compared to printed or analogue images in previous chapters. Analogue images are represented by circular dots, while the digital images are represented by square pixels. Analogue images in Parcours Pictural are represented by CMYK, the subtractive colour model for printing, while digital images are represented by RGB (Red, Right and Blue), the additive colour model of the light.      

Moreover, this contrast of analogue and digital images show that even the most fundamental and abstract elements of the image — pixel and dot — can be representative. Parcours Pictural opened significant opportunities for abstract comics.