For a year now I have been involved in the production of a print magazine on architecture. The title is called AWM and reports on the evolving Dutch architecture practice. The regional focus of the magazine has the obvious advantage that we are able to expose an architecture that is tied to a specific culture and place. In the latest issue, for instance, we were able to take ten pages to discuss an urban design that in a completely new way combines housing with the Dutch polder landscape.
A couple of weeks ago the printing office invited the editorial team of AWM to come and see the magazine being printed. That was quite an experience. As editor my work on the magazine ends the moment our designer sends his files to the printing office. I never realized another team continues to work on the magazine for at least about a week to get it all printed and bound. I also never realized the magnitude of our imprint. What an amount of paper!
The most fascinating part of the printing process for me was to see that the color is literally pressed onto the paper. There are four cylinders that each press one color on the sheets that run under it. The stacking of the colors cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black) produces the image. At the printing office the CMYK format of photographs and images is a spatial reality.
In the printing office for each of the four colors aluminium plates are made, in a process that can be compared to exposing photographs. The photographs below show a printing lane that allows for six printing rolls. The extra two allow for colors like silver and gold.
For an editor color, in a sense, equals trouble. There is the color of the actual architecture, there is the color on photographs, there is the RGB color on your screen and there is the CMYK color of the printing press. And that is not all. Daylight produces different colors during the day and season. The artificial lighting that might be lit inside affects the perceived color. Finally, up to twelve percent of all men suffer from a degree of color blindness, up to eight percent can pretty much not distinguish red from green. It’s a mess.