Continuing my theme from yesterday, here is another work from the New Prints 2011 exhibition, Tomi Um’s Little Opera.
There’s a lot to love here. The most immediately striking aspect is how the accordion fold presentation cleanly melds centuries of history between ancient papyrus scroll and the codex (book). The accordion book can be turned fold by fold as a book or all pulled out to over ten feet. These proportions make it natural for narrative time to progress from left to right, as in comics.
As I looked closer at the central climactic image above I realized that there are three distinct layers (or planes) in this composition which adds some delicious complexity and texture yet are printed with only two silk screens. The red ink and associated negative space depict the audience and white gladiators, respectively. Then, the black-inked gladiators are printed on top in a light black so that the red ink still comes through. The line work is so distinct yet this printing technique adds just the right amount of uncertainty.