Scotchprint, 115 x 80 cm, 1993
“Hickies” is what a printer calls the printing flaws due to specks of dirt, dust and dry ink, whose volume slightly raises the offset rubber blanket. The result is a minuscule bright circle around a dark spot called aureole. While often distracting, hickies may evoke interesting associations. When it comes to prints of star formations, however, a hickie can be disastrous, in particular when such a photograph is scanned or reproduced. A re-print will show “stars” where there is nothing in actual reality.
My coloured digital prints of such flaws pay homage to the “Celestographies” that Gustav Strindberg produced during his stay in Dornach and Gersau, Switzerland, around 1894. For his celestographies, Strindberg exposed photographic paper on a clear night to capture direct images of stars without the interference of optical instruments.
Soon after this, I realised a similar project. For this offset edition of unique prints, I had to search far and wide before I found a printer who was prepared to meet my requirements: to use black ink only, and to sprinkle dust and dirt into the running printing machine to create a fictitious map of stars. To an offset printer, this is a meaningless enterprise; it hurts his professional pride, and entails an extremely laborious process to clean his machinery.