1302_1_Print Screen_Kromskop


“Kromskop, reconstructed on the basis of the size of a MacBook Pro 15.3 inch from 2012

Colour photography was invented several decades before the invention that made it possible to actually print colour pictures. In order to behold those early colour photos, Frederic Eugene Ives invented the Kromskop : a wooden box that displays colour images using red, green and blue coloured filters in combination with three black and white positives.*

For the first time, it was possible to view pictures in colours, but it was also the first time that pictures had no physical form and consisted of a projection instead. For a certain time the Kromskop was the only way to observe colour photos. It was, however, considered a temporary solution; one did not see the projections as a photographic end product at that time. Photographers and inventors invested time to create colour printing, which was the desirable outcome back then. Now, with the digitization of the (photographic) image and with the increasing quality and portability of the digital display, making a photographic print is often a step too far; pictures are usually viewed digitally. As a result, the invention of Frederic Eugene Ives is relevant again. The Kromskop, designed to view projected images, is in fact the precursor to the digital screen as we know it today. Even though the Kromskop has always been considered to be intermediate, our current photographic end product is actually a digital, modern implementation of the Kromskop.

*The first colour photograph was made by the two Scots James Clerk Maxwell and Thomas Sutton and showed the image of a ribbon with a Scottish chequered pattern. The photograph served as evidence for the existence of an additive colour system in which a mixture of light with red, green and blue could reproduce all existing colours. A colour photograph of that time consisted of three identical black and white photographs, each made through the three different colour filters (red, green and blue). These images could only be viewed if projected through overlapping coloured filters.”

Excerpt from the handout ‘Print Screen’.

Material: wood and coloured plexiglass

Frederic Eugene Ives with his Kromskop

Additive colour system projecting red, green and blue