Centre for Fine Print Research University of the West of England Centre for Fine Print Research
  L. Salaman, wallpaper design

Luke Salaman

title of wallpaper: Stress Patterns
keywords:Interference patterns, iridescence, polarising film, layers, colour

My recent work has centred on creating imagery that investigates our conflicted relationship with oil: direct imagery of refineries, tankers and plastics produced from petrochemicals contrasting with the striking rainbow interference patterns caused by oil slicks on water. The colours that appear from petroleum on water are similar to the iridescence of butterfly wings. Initial print tests were made on shiny plastics, but when trying to achieve an iridescent quality to the images, I realised that I could not get a truly iridescent effect using inkjet technology.


As part of this research, I tried Smartfilm (also referred to as Chameleon film); this is a micro-thickness polyester film, consisting of no less than 250 layers, which are extruded to obtain a very thin film. It demonstrates the optical property of ‘colour switching, which when applied to a light surface the film spectrum ranges from a violet-blue to a pinkish red; on a darker surface, it turns from purple to gold. This optical surface resulted in a change of colour as one moved in front; it also opened up the possibility of using a black and white image under the smart film that would optically interact with the film above it.

Experimenting further with the optical properties of the Smartfilm, I then generated imagery based on the physical characteristics of thin-film plastics when subjected to stress. The process involved stretching cling-film, placing it between layers of polarising film and scanning at high resolution; the polarising film enabled one to see the stress patterns in the plastic, resulting in an image comprising a vibrant spectrum of colours. The initial test prints onto Smartfilm using the Roland printers were promising and worked well on the film.

Using the Roland printer, the wallpaper comprised a series of printed and bonded layers: a black and white backing layer, a micro layer of Smartfilm, then a print of the polarised image on top. The high contrast, black and white images worked best under the Smartfilm, as this activated the colour switching most effectively and could enable the image to be seen from acute angles.

I found the project both enjoyable and challenging. The process evolved unexpectedly from the tests, which enabled me to create a much more visually and optically complex wallpaper than expected. It was also interesting to work with industrial technology - seeing how repurposing this print technology could extend visual possibilities within an arts context.

 

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