Opening tonight at 7:00 PM
1st floor, Heggenstraat 16 · Maastricht · The Netherlands · +31.43.321.0830
HORTENSIO. Madam, before you touch the instrument
To learn the order of my fingering,
I must begin with rudiments of art,
To teach you gamut in a briefer sort,
More pleasant, pithy, and effectual,
Than hath been taught by any of my trade;
And there it is in writing fairly drawn.
BIANCA. Why, I am past my gamut long ago.
HORTENSIO. Yet read the gamut of Hortensio.
‘”Gamut” I am, the ground of all accord-
“A re” to plead Hortensio’s passion-
“B mi” Bianca, take him for thy lord-
“C fa ut” that loves with all affection-
“D sol re” one clef, two notes have I-
“E la mi” show pity or I die.’
Call you this gamut? Tut, I like it not!
Old fashions please me best; I am not so nice
To change true rules for odd inventions.
The Taming of the Shrew
William Shakespeare, 1623
It seems that before being employed in the fields of photography and color-printing technology, the term ‘gamut’ referred to the set of pitches of which musical melodies are composed.
In contemporary color-technology, the gamut of a device (of a printer, or of a computer screen for example) is a portion of the human color space (a space containing all the sensations of color that humans can experience – sometimes abusively called the ‘human gamut’) that can be reproduced by this device.
Characterizing color sensations requires at least three variables, thus all mathematical color spaces are three-dimensional (for example the RGB color space has Red, Green, Blue as variables). Accordingly, a device’s gamut is a three-dimensional object (a ‘convex hull’) in a mathematical space, it is a portion of that space whose edges are formed by the most ‘intense’ or ‘colorful’ sensations the device can reproduce.
The gamut of a color printer can be seen as an ID-card for that particular machine on a particular paper. Representing it gives us an instant picture of all the colors the machine can reproduce at several levels of luminosity. It also shows us the limits beyond which the printer cannot print. For an inkjet printer it depends on the type, quality, and number of ‘primary colors’ the machine uses, and on the whiteness of the paper.
In our case, the Epson Stylus Pro 9890 uses six primary colors: Cyan, Light-Cyan, Magenta, Vivid Magenta, Yellow, and Black.
I recently characterized this printer in order to get a full colorimetric control of it. I also wrote an algorithm based on spectral measurements of the printer’s colors, which renders digital pictures with a random dithering of colored ‘pixels’. The palette consists of 386 saturated colors (no grays).
It seemed like a logical step in my research to print a large-format picture of the gamut of this machine, and to show it in an exhibition space aside with the palette of primary colors. Five equidistant luminance levels have been rendered, reflecting amounts of light in the range 16% to 71% of light.